Matthew Pennington says the mood among Everton’s young players is sky high thanks to the faith being shown in them by Blues boss Ronald Koeman.
Pennington is one of five Academy graduates to have been included in recent squads alongside Ross Barkley, Tom Davies, Jonjoe Kenny and Joe Williams, while youngsters Dominic Calvert-Lewin, Ademola Lookman and Mason Holgate have also featured under the Dutchman.
And the Warrington-born 22-year-old, who has signed a new deal with the Club until June 2019, says the latest crop of young Toffees are encouraged by the opportunities they have been given.
“It’s a brilliant place to be at the moment,” Pennington told evertontv. “When you’ve got a manager who’s courageous enough to put young players in the team, who thinks if you’re good enough, you’re old enough, it’s great.
“That there’s a few of you, you’ve played together for years and there’s a few friendly faces around the place, is also really good. It makes it a little bit more comfortable rather than just being the one player coming through.
“The young lads below us must also be looking up and thinking 'why can’t I be the next one?' It shows them there’s a clear pathway into the first team and gives them that incentive to carry on working hard to achieve that.”
Pennington has started Everton’s past two games at centre-half and says it’s an honour to be learning from a two-time European Cup-winning defender in Koeman.
“It’s great to have a manager who’s played in your position,” he said. “It means they know the situations you get into in games and they can pass on bits of advice to help you through that.
“I couldn’t pinpoint one thing but you just learn so much from listening to little things that he says and try to put those into your game.”
As well as Koeman, Pennington has been able to call on the support of Ashley Williams and Phil Jagielka - players 10 and 12 years his senior respectively, with 532 Premier League appearances between them.
He says that’s been a particular comfort, having only just fought back from a serious hamstring injury that forced him to sit out the first half of the 2016/17 campaign.
“It’s good when you have pros alongside you who have played so many games and have got so much experience,” the youngster added. “They’ve probably been though long injuries themselves, so they know how you’re feeling and can help you along with day-to-day things at Finch Farm and then on matchday out on the pitch as well.”