Andy Spence hopes Gabby George can follow in the footsteps of past Everton Ladies products and kick-start a long and successful career in the England Women’s senior team.
George was handed her first Lionesses call on Thursday morning and will join Mo Marley’s squad for World Cup 2019 qualifiers against Bosnia and Kazakhstan.
Current England regulars Toni Duggan, Alex Greenwood and Nikita Parris all came through the Blue Girls’ Academy, while the likes of Jill Scott, Lucy Bronze and Fara Williams have also spent time on Everton’s books.
George, 20, began her career at Manchester United but was signed by Spence at the age of 16 and thrown straight into the first-team squad.
And he believes the defender's inclusion for this month’s games prove Everton are still getting it right when it comes to developing international-quality footballers.
“When I heard the news, the likes of Tony, Nikita and Alex sprung to mind immediately because it’s always nice and a reflection of the work that goes on at the Club as a whole when someone is called up by their country,” he told evertonfc.com.
“There’s a lot of people that have had a lot of involvement and invested a lot of time in helping those players, plus Gabby, to develop.
“It’s such a proud moment and we are so pleased to see our system produces some really good talents, and to have Gabby added to that list of players is fantastic.
“If she can go on and learn from what those girls have done and develop like they have then she is only going to go one way with her career and we are all looking forward to that exciting future for her.”
Spence’s trust in George saw him play her at centre-back in the 2014 FA Women’s Cup final against Arsenal when she was just 17 years of age.
And the Blue Girls boss believes the defender's determination and drive make her one-to-watch in the run up to the World Cup in 2019.
“I know Gabby has such a big ambition in terms of her own personal game and wanting to be the best player she can be,” he added.
“Over the years she has never been shy in telling me she wants to be an England senior player, which is brilliant for me to hear as a coach because it shows the ambition of her and, albeit she is only 20 years of age now, to have that first call-up is fantastic and we’re so proud to have her at Everton.
“She has played a lot of WSL football ahead of her years but she has been at the right club to give her that chance, and that’s probably why she is in this position now.
“It is important for her to learn as much as possible, bring that back to the Club, and for us to keep pushing her to get better for Everton and make sure this is the first of many call-ups.
“We need to remember she is still learning her game but it should be an ambition for her to play in a World Cup and I will fully support her ambition to be part of that tournament.
“For now, it’s a brilliant moment for her, a brilliant moment for her family, and we’re all really delighted for Gabby.”