Everton manager Carlo Ancelotti admits he would have gladly accepted their current situation had he been offered it at the start of the season despite some notable disappointments making European qualification more difficult.
The Toffees head into Friday’s match against Arsenal in eighth, three points ahead of the Gunners, and just six behind fourth-placed Chelsea with a match in hand.
Everton have taken just three points from their last five Premier League matches to dilute hopes of Champions League qualification but Ancelotti said his players were ready for the run-in.
“A lot of times we could do better but, honestly, at the beginning (of the season) if they say to me ‘You will be there to fight with seven games to go’ I would sign the document without a problem,” he said.
“I think we have no regrets: it is true at home we lost some points but it is also true we had an unbelievable away run against strong teams.
“We have to keep fighting for these seven games because it will be really important for the future of this club and it could be a fantastic step forward in only one year.
“It is a really competitive final period of the season and I think we are ready. It is true we didn’t have a good moment in the last month, now we have a lot of players available.”
Returning to the Everton squad after absences of varying lengths are leading scorer Dominic Calvert-Lewin, defender Yerry Mina, midfielders Andre Gomes and Fabian Delph and forward Bernard, leaving just Abdoulaye Doucoure (ankle) and Jean-Philippe Gbamin (knee) on the injured list.
That could be just the boost the Toffees need after more than six weeks without a win, having had to field patched-up teams.
They were held to a 2-2 draw at home by Tottenham last week and Ancelotti saw positive signs in that performance which he wants replicated for the rest of the campaign.
“I was happy about the performance because we were more aggressive, played with more intensity, and this is the format we want to use in this kind of game,” he added.
“You need to be strong and aggressive, need to be brave and show your quality: the fact the game against Tottenham was good from this aspect gives me a lot of confidence.
“I think the attitude was good for a lot of games but we need to have our quality, we need to have our ability, because only the attitude is not enough to play against Arsenal.
“We have to put in the quality we have, the concentration we have, the strength and ability we have up front to try to win.”