Alan Stubbs highlighted the performance of Tyias Browning following Everton Under-21s' 3-1 win over Reading on Monday evening.
The Blues were impressive as a collective unit at the Merseyrail Community Stadium, racing into a deserved 3-0 lead at the break before a professional second-half performance ensured all three points.
Centre-back Browning was deployed in a holding midfield role and found himself at the heart of the action, continuously breaking up attacks from the visitors and leading Everton's own.
Indeed, two forward surges from the England Under-19 international resulted in an assist for Chris Long's first goal and an opening to display composure and score himself.
Despite midfielder Francisco Junior being loaned to Vitesse Arnhem for the season, Stubbs insists the idea to utilise his skipper in the centre of the park had already crossed his mind.
He explained to evertontv: "We thought we'd put Tyias in there to help him in his development to become even more comfortable on the ball and think about his position and angles when receiving it.
"Even if Cisco had played tonight, we were going to try it to see how he did and whether it could add another element to his game.
"He was smashing tonight. He's obviously very athletic, he's got fantastic pace and he won important tackles for us.
"He did great for his goal. We were all really happy for him – and really surprised that he finished it!
“The more positions you can be flexible at, that will only improve your chances of becoming a better player. We're always looking for players to do that if they can. I think it's important for them to realise what's expected.
"If it's Tyias in there, he'll be the one who's [normally] passing to a midfield player so he has to think about his position as a midfielder and passes he would like from a defender.”
With two goals from Long, another fine goalkeeping display from Mateusz Taudul and more strong individual performances at Southport, Stubbs was keen to praise the rest of his squad as they face a long wait for the next game at Newcastle on 16 September.
He added: "It was great for Chris to score a couple of goals and I thought Hallam Hope worked really hard without getting the reward of a goal.
“Tyias has done well in midfield, John Lundstram at times was very good and Shane Duffy was very reliable and looked comfortable at times, so there were a lot of positives.”