Jonjoe Kenny insists Everton’s clash with Italian outfit Atalanta represents a “massive opportunity” for the Club’s contingent of talented youngsters to impress boss David Unsworth.
Kenny has started and finished each of the Toffees’ past six matches, joining the likes of Ross Barkley, Tom Davies and Beni Baningime as a first-team performer to come off Everton’s acclaimed Academy production line of talent.
The right-back played every minute of England Under-20s’ victorious summer World Cup campaign. And of that history-making young Lions side, only Kenny’s Clubmate Dominic Calvert-Lewin has played more Premier League minutes than the Kirkdale-born player this season.
“That is what the Club is known for,” said Kenny, speaking on the eve of Atalanta’s visit to Goodison Park. “It gives young lads a chance. Most of all, you have to be good enough. The young lads who have come through have been good enough, and when they have played they have put in good performances.
“It (the Atalanta match) is a massive opportunity for the young lads to perform, we are looking to the next game after this, trying to stay in the team and put in a performance again.
“The players have one job. That is to perform in every game you play. We are playing for Everton, so every game that comes around, we have to put in a good shift and try to make sure we win.
“For any young lad coming through, they always have a chance. If you are good enough you will get your chance.
“You learn you have to be patient. Things do not happen as quickly as you want them to, so you have to keep working hard, then, hopefully your chance comes – and when it does you have to take it.”
The Blues claimed four points from their past two Premier League games – and Kenny believes he is part of an Everton team “on the up”.
As such, he views Thursday’s Europa League meeting with Atalanta as a chance to inject further momentum into the Toffees’ campaign.
Kenny has been on the pitch for 374 minutes of Everton’s top-flight season – 270 of those coming in the three Premier League games overseen by Unsworth.
The 20-year-old has also completed 90 minutes in each of the former Blues defender’s two cup matches in charge – last month’s Carabao Cup tie at Chelsea and the trip to Lyon in the Europa League three weeks ago.
“I have worked with Unsy for three or four years, he has been brilliant for me, trusted me and played me in the past five games, so I cannot thank him enough for that,” said Kenny.
“I started off against Arsenal (when Kenny made his first Premier League start in the final match before Unsworth assumed the helm). That was a tough game, but as the games have gone on I have felt better and better, more like me – and I have felt more confident.
“We got a point against Palace and a win against Watford. We are on the up, the next game is tomorrow, and we want to get a win against and take that into Sunday (the Premier League match at Southampton).
“Our performances are high-tempo, we are all fighting and you can see the desire in the players.”