Alan Stubbs highlighted Conor McAleny’s 40-minute outing as one of the biggest positives to take out of Everton Under-21s’ 2-2 draw with Sunderland on Monday night.
The young striker was introduced from the bench just after half-time for his second appearance since recovering from a broken leg suffered whilst on loan at Brentford at the start of the season.
McAleny made his comeback from five months on the sidelines in the second string’s 0-0 draw at Spurs last week.
And having reported no setbacks to date, Stubbs will continue to ease the 21-year-old back to full fitness.
“Obviously that was the pleasing point from everything that we are doing at the moment, that Conor is making progress all the time,” Stubbs told evertontv.
“From his point of view, it’s great for him and we will now look to get him 60 minutes and build it from there.”
Harry Charsley’s first-half brace put the Under-21s into a two-goal advantage in their clash with the Black Cats at Southport.
The visitors pulled a goal back before half-time and, as the rain poured down in the second period, Kevin Ball’s side went to score a leveller and earn a point.
Stubbs added: “His first one was a great turn and finish on the edge of the box and for the second one he put himself in a great position to score. It was great for Harry and he put us in a commanding position but we conceded two defensively poor goals from our point of view.
“It was a game of two halves. I thought we did well in the first half and were totally dominant. We got ourselves into a two-goal lead but then we switched off and gave them a goal. In the second half, they came back into the game and showed a bit more effort.
“They probably had a rollocking at half-time and adapted to the conditions better than we have. But we have conceded two goals that we could have done something about.”
Everton Under-21s’ next action is in the Liverpool Senior Cup this Thursday when they face Marine at the Arriva Stadium.