Conor McAleny has set himself the challenge of breaking into the Everton first team in 2014/15 after putting pen-to-paper on a new three-year contract.
The 21-year-old striker agreed a deal keeping him at Goodison Park until the summer of 2017 on Tuesday and immediately declared he is ready to make a fresh start after spending much of last season sidelined through injury.
The Academy graduate fractured his leg while on loan at Brentford in August and missed the vast majority of the campaign as a result.
Following a lengthy rehabilitation period, McAleny returned to action for the Club’s Under-21s team in February and contributed with three goals in the season run-in.
He has since spent a large chunk of the summer break working on his fitness levels and is now determined to make a positive impression on Roberto Martinez when the players reconvene at Finch Farm for pre-season this month.
“I want to get as close as I can to the first team, make some appearances and hopefully chip in with a few goals if possible,” a delighted McAleny told evertontv. “Pre-season is where you can impress the manager and get off to a good start, which will always help for later on.
“I’ve been cracking on for about three weeks now and I’m feeling really fit and can’t wait to get going. Hopefully the injuries are behind me now and I can start pushing on.“
McAleny first joined the Everton Academy at the age of 11 and progressed through the youth system to make a first-team debut from the bench against Arsenal at the Emirates Stadium in December 2011.
He made a second Premier League appearance the following week against Norwich City – and he is optimistic he can add to that tally after being boosted by a conversation with manager Martinez.
McAleny continued: “He [Martinez] called me up a few weeks ago and we had a good chat. That was massive for me.
"He told me I was going to be in his plans and that was a big part of why I have signed.
“Hearing that from the manager has definitely given me a boost and confidence for when I go back in with the lads.
"He wants to give young lads a go and that's always going to be an incentive."