Duo: Hard Work The Key

Youngsters Daniel Fox and Anthony Gerrard signed professional contracts with the club on Wednesday, but despite their delight they know that a sustained effort is required from them both if they are to progress to the first team.

The defenders, both 18-years of age, have established themselves as reserve team regulars after impressing at Under-19 level during the course of the 2003/4 campaign, but now have their targets set even higher.

Fox made ten appearances for the Blues' second string last season, while Gerrard, who has represented the Republic of Ireland's Under-18 side, accumulated 17 over the course of the past ten months.

Both know that they face a real battle to get into David Moyes' first-team plans but are convinced that if they don't make it, it won't be down to a lack of effort on their part.

Gerrard told evertonfc.com: "One of my main ambitions is to play for Everton. I set myself targets every year and I want to either get on the bench or make an appearance for the first team next season.

"It's going to be extremely difficult. In fact, it's going to be like the past two years at Academy level rolled into one. All my hard work, all my desire, all my efforts are going into next year.

"I've been relaxing for the last three days, but I think I'm going to have to start training again because I want to be fitter than the first team when they come back! I want to prove a point and show them what I'm made of."

Huyton-born Gerrard has been a member of the Blues' Academy since he was eight years old, while Fox joined the club from Liverpool when he was thirteen. Fox, who hails from Cheshire is now based on Merseyside for what he hopes will be a long association with Everton.

"Hopefully, I can progress like I did last year," he said. "Hopefully, I can get a good few reserve team games under my belt and I can get myself in the manager's thoughts for next season.

"I just need to keep my head down and carry on working well. There's a few left-backs who have made the grade here, I'm hoping to be another. I've worked hard since I've been here and I know that I've got a lot of hard work to come.

"I've been a Blue all my life and I can't really put in to words what it means for me to sign a professional contract with the club. I'm delighted to sign and hopefully this is the start of a good professional career for me."

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