Phil Jagielka says nobody is hitting the panic button at Everton despite the defensive mistakes which have threatened to derail their season.
Everton have won plaudits for some of their attacking play this season but have conceded more goals at home in the Premier League than any other team.
It means Roberto Martinez’s side are only 11th in the table, nine points behind Tottenham in fourth.
However, Jagielka returned after more than two months out with a knee injury in Saturday’s FA Cup third-round tie against Dagenham, overseeing a first clean sheet in four matches that provided the platform for a straightforward 2-0 win.
Results in Jagielka’s absence have not been so comfortable and he admits it has been tough to watch sloppy goals fly in against the Toffees.
“It has been difficult, but it is not just down to the defenders,” Jagielka said.
“Some of the goals we conceded could have been stopped at source so it is frustrating.
“The actual performances we have been putting in have been pretty good but anything that could go wrong went wrong.
“It has been a test of character. We have a lot of young lads, they are lads that have not been here a long time and it is all part of their character growing at such a great club.
“There is no panic button being pressed. There are a few things that need working on, we need to iron them little things out now and have a progressive second half of the season.
“We are getting stronger and stronger with more experience.”
Jagielka’s return could not have come at a better time with right-back Seamus Coleman sidelined for three weeks with a calf injury and Ramiro Funes Mori a doubt for Wednesday’s Premier League trip to Manchester City after having 10 stitches in a head wound against Wycombe.
There is no question Jagielka will not regain his place, especially as John Stones may be required to fill for Coleman in the short-term, but he has seen great promise in the Stones-Funes Mori partnership.
“John is a great lad, he will eventually be a leader and just because he is 21 it does not mean he can’t help someone else out who has not been too long in the country,” said the captain.
“But Ramiro is no mug, he is an international player who we paid a lot of money for, but the one thing he doesn’t have is experience in the Premier League.
“Playing more with John, playing more games, you can see he is growing and looking more composed on the ball.
“He is a fantastic competitor and at the moment he has been a good buy – in the future I’m sure we will say he has been a fantastic buy.
“The only way he will get experience is game time.
“He has played a lot with John at the moment. Whether he plays with me or John over the next few months, he has been picking up the accolades for his performances and they are deserved.”