Everton travel to Oakwell on Wednesday and Seamus Coleman is eager for the Premier League side to progress past Barnsley and continue improving after a disappointing 2014-15 campaign.
Roberto Martinez’s men felt the strain of UEFA Europa League football last term as they bowed out of the FA Cup and the League Cup in the third round, while only finishing 10th in the top flight thanks to an impressive late-season revival.
With four points from nine this term and the likelihood of further reinforcements before the transfer window shuts, there is cause for optimism ahead of the midweek trip to League One Barnsley.
The clubs have met regularly in the boardroom over recent seasons to conclude the transfers of John Stones and Mason Holgate to Merseyside.
And, as they prepare to meet for the first time since 1998 on Wednesday, Coleman told Everton’s official website: “We’re looking a lot better this season.
“I know we drew the first game [against Watford], but I thought we did quite well [in the win] against Southampton and at times [in Sunday’s defeat to Manchester City] we looked better as well.
“First and foremost we have to massively improve upon last year. It was a let-down for us all – as individuals and collectively, we didn’t perform well enough.
“We want to put that right this year and give the fans something they deserve.”
Having finished comfortably in mid-table last season following relegation to the third tier, Lee Johnson’s Barnsley have promotion firmly in their sights.
His side have made a solid start to the league campaign, taking seven points from 12, and saw off Scunthorpe United on penalties to reach the second round.
Johnson has been heartened by Barnsley’s early-season form, stating after Saturday’s goalless draw with Bradford City: “I was very pleased with the way they came out of it.
“[The players] controlled the possession, took the ball and were brave. This team does need time to link but the little one per cents will soon add up.
“We’re competing in every game. We know it’s a side that is a work-in-progress and we have to look to achieve and the dream is promotion.
“We have to work hard to achieve that dream.”
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