Francis Jeffers says Everton’s Under-23s team are “desperate to get out there and put on a performance” against Manchester United on Monday night.
The young Blues will leapfrog Leicester City into second spot in Premier League 2 with a victory over United at Southport's Merseyrail Community Stadium, an outcome that would act as the perfect tonic following defeat in the mini-derby nine days ago (7pm kick-off).
Boss Jeffers has been longing to return to action since that game – and insists his own eagerness is matched by his players’ desire to wash away the disappointment of losing last time out.
“I wished we could have played right after the derby,” Jeffers told evertonfc.com. “When you lose a game you want to put it right and it has been a long nine days.
“But it is here now, and it is important we get back to winning ways.
“The players have been great since the last match. We have worked hard and been in every day, not to punish them or to take time off them – but to say, ‘we need to work a bit longer and harder to get better’.”
Reigning champions Everton are third in Premier League 2 after winning six and drawing one of their opening 10 games.
Having seen the Toffees pass up a couple of opportunities to hit the summit this season, Jeffers is focusing only on the game in hand against United’s youngsters, rather than concerning himself with how winning three points would affect the league table.
“We have had a couple of games where if we had won we would have gone top, so we will just worry about performing, and the result, hopefully, will take care of the league position,” said Jeffers, who expects to have the same group of players available as against Liverpool, bar the first-teamers who were involved in that fixture.
“It is a great game for us to look forward to. Any game would be a big game after losing a derby in that manner.
“I am sure Manchester United will be thinking they can come and turn us over. But our lads need to react.
“We have had a really, really good nine days. We watched the derby back together and spoke about a few things.
“And although it is hard to get defeats like that out of your head, we had a couple of days talking about it and working on things that went wrong.
“For a solid week now the preparation has been about Manchester United. And I am sure the players will be desperate to get out there and put on a performance.”
Entry to the game is free to Official Everton Members and Season Ticket Holders. Otherwise, admission is £5 for adults and £3 concessions.
You can also follow the action with our live blog at evertonfc.com