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Stoke City (A) Wed 4 Mar 2015, 19:45, Barclays Premier League

by Daniel Alston @efc_danalston

Alan Stubbs is delighted with the way Everton Under-21s are maturing after seeing his side earn a 0-0 draw at Tottenham on Monday.

The Blues' second-string has had an even younger make-up in recent weeks due to the amount of players loaned out into the Football League.

And while those in their mid-teens took the presented opportunities with both hands, the Under-21s were able to use the youth loan ruling to call upon added experience for the trip to Bishops Stortford.

Skipper Tyias Browning, Matthew Pennington, Matthew Kennedy and Mason Springthorpe all featured, while Chris Long travelled and Hallam Hope played after his loan spell had come to an end.

The Toffees had to settle for a point against Spurs, but the fixture allowed Stubbs to assess his senior individuals and their continuing development.

He told "It's always great to have them back because you know you've got quality. I've said it many times - on our day we're as good as anyone with everyone here.

"We had quite a few back tonight and it showed. They're displaying a maturity from going out on loan and you can see that in the game. Whereas maybe a few years ago I was shouting a lot of instructions to help them, I'm shouting less now which is good from my point of view.

"I think we're starting to see them mature as young men now. They've got personalities which are coming out. After a few years they've suddenly realised they've got voices as well and they're starting to use them in the right way which is really positive.

"Our young lads are also learning very quickly which is very pleasing."

On the game itself, Stubbs admitted the surface played its part in disrupting the rhythm both sides tried to instil.

Yet there was one stand-out highlight for the coaching staff as Conor McAleny returned from five months out with a broken leg.

"It was a quite even contest," Stubbs added. "We both had chances. Our application on an awful pitch was first class. Overall I was really happy with the way the lads dealt with the conditions.

"The pitch was very poor, but it was the same for both teams. We both tried to play our game, but it was difficult at times.

"Overall we're really happy with the performance and the desire to put bodies on the line. Their understanding to get back into shape when we didn't have the ball was great - we also forced them into mistakes and frustrated them.

"I applauded all the lads at the end of the game for how they approached it, but for me the most positive part of the night was seeing the little fella back after his leg break.

"The fact Conor has come on and had 30 minutes will do him the world of good psychologically.

"He's on the road to recovery now and we'll keep building him up and easing him along to get him back to where he was."

Everton Under-21s are next in action against Sunderland at Southport on Monday 10 February (7pm kick-off). Admission is free for Season Ticket holders and FOREVERTON members, or £5 for adults and £3 for concessions otherwise.

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