Roberto Martinez says Everton's players are already showing an intense desire to compete for first-team places.
The new Barclays Premier League season is a little under three weeks away and Everton have four pre-season games to play, but the new Blues boss is already witnessing his squad lay everything on the line in order to impress.
A week's training in Austria has been followed by more lung-busting work at Finch Farm - all of which has impressed Everton's Spanish chief.
He said: "A lot of time you speak about pre-season as being a period to get fit and talk about possible signings but this pre-season has been about the competitive edge we have already got in this dressing room.
"I can tell you that after the first week of work, which is normally just adaptation, everything we do is a real sign of players competing for starting positions and that has given everyone a real good feeling.
"The intensity and the work-rate have been magnificent."
Martinez handed 19 members of his squad run-outs at Blackburn on Saturday, one of which was Ross Barkley, who played the first half before being substituted at the break.
The England youth international impressed in his 45-minute display – his first pre-season action - and Martinez believes he has the potential to become a key cog in Everton’s midfield engine room this season.
“I thought Ross today was a real sign of someone with talent,” Martinez explained. “He is a young man who wants to learn and is desperate to have a massive role this season. It’s great to see youngsters have this attitude and it’s going to be very positive.
The Spaniard continued: “He’s still a young man, and he needs to learn the players around him. But I’m excited to have that process with him. He has got an incredible talent. You look at young players like Gerard Deulofeu and Ross Barkley – they are at that level.
“I am really pleased with his attitude, the way he listens and wants to learn. And when he is in full flow, he can be something special.”
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