Sylvain Distin insists fellow centre-back Shane Duffy is ready to come of age this season.
The Frenchman's form and that of new Everton skipper Phil Jagielka meant the 21-year-old Irishman was restricted to just three first-team appearances last term.
But 18 months on from bailing the Blues out during a crippling defensive injury crisis, Distin feels a player 14 years his junior is better set than ever to make a telling first-team impact.
Injuries to both Distin and Jagielka saw Duffy called upon for four straight games in January 2012 as the Blues picked up precious Premier League points against Aston Villa and Blackburn before knocking Fulham out in the FA Cup.
And asked if 2013/14 could be the youngster's time to shine again, Distin told evertontv: "It's difficult to predict what is going to happen because football is never an exact science.
"What I am sure about is that I've seen enough of Duffy to feel comfortable with him being able to play in the Premier League and I'm pretty sure he already proved it two seasons ago when because of injuries he had to play and he did a great job.
"I remember when I came back into the squad I told him I was happy to be back obviously, but I didn't feel like it was fair because he did great.
"I think he surprised a lot of people and possibly even himself. That will have given him a confidence boost and we will have to wait and see."
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