Coach David Unsworth said Everton Under-21s’ performance against Sunderland on Monday evening was the best he had seen from his young team ‘in quite a while’.
The Black Cats ran out 1-0 winners – but Unsworth was keen to highlight a number of plus points to take from the game at Eppleton Colliery.
His only disappointment was that Everton could not find the equalising goal their attacking play merited.
“There was nothing in the game,” Unsworth told evertonfc.com. “I thought our performance level was the best it’s been for quite a while. We were on the front foot in the first half and created numerous chances, though we perhaps lacked that little bit of cutting edge to stick the ball in the back of the net.
“I thought we passed it better than we have done recently and there were some top performances. Brendan Galloway and Jonjoe Kenny were outstanding and arguably it was the best I have seen them play in an Everton shirt. So there were some massive pluses, including another 90 minutes for Joe Williams.
“Our young lads continue to give us everything and I can’t complain about their effort and work-rate. It was just unfortunate they got a goal out of nothing.
“We just couldn’t get that opportunity towards the end to get us level. I feel a little bit sorry for the players because they didn’t deserve that. They gave everything to the cause tonight.
“We’ll travel back, recover and go again on Friday at West Ham.”
Unsworth also revealed that forward David Henen will miss the last two matches of the season because of the ankle injury suffered in last week’s mini-derby defeat to Liverpool.
Sam Byrne’s involvement in the final weeks of the season is also in doubt after he limped out of Thursday’s defeat at Sunderland after just 40 minutes.
It’s a further setback for the Irish forward who had only recently recovered from a long-term knee injury.
Unsworth added: “At first we just thought David had just rolled his ankle and that he would have been back for tonight. But the scan has shown he has strained his ankle ligaments and that’s his season over, unfortunately.”
“It looks like Sam has hurt his groin. He might have over-stretched so we will assess that.
“The injuries are disappointing but our academy is full of good players and we will give another youngster an opportunity in these last two games.
“Having 16 and 17-year-olds involved in the Under-21s is great because that allows our older players to go out on loan. To have so many players who have that loan experience is how you develop and what it is all about.”