Phil Jagielka believes that Everton's defence is already proving to be much improved compared to last term, despite the club having sold key man John Stones to Manchester City.
While England starlet Stones has already become a regular feature under Pep Guardiola at Manchester City, Everton have not missed the impact of the 22-year-old, having claimed 13 points from their opening six Premier League fixtures - their best start to a season in 38 years.
And Jagielka - a mainstay alongside Stones in Everton's shaky defence under former boss Roberto Martinez - is happy that Ronald Koeman's side have quickly adapted to life without the youngster.
"Everyone was expecting John to leave with the size of the transfer fee, and it was important we got one more centre-back in," said Jagielka, who has already formed a strong partnership with Stones' replacement Ashley Williams.
"I think it's just getting out to train, spending time together, and communication. It helps that Ash is a similar type of defender to myself.
"The defence is tighter than last year but it will still take a little bit of time. We've got a new goalkeeper in, too, with Maarten [Stekelenburg] behind us.
"He's pulled out some fantastic saves at important times. So it's just getting the new unit together and putting the hours in, and hopefully the clean sheets will keep coming."