John Ebbrell wants Everton’s Under-23s to use Goodison Park as a platform to “express themselves” in Tuesday’s Premier League Cup contest with Portsmouth (7pm kick-off).
The Blues are aiming to capitalise on the momentum gained from last week’s come-from-behind league victory over Tottenham Hotspur, when Antony Evans struck twice to ensure David Unsworth’s side returned to action in the best-possible style after a month-long break.
Assistant manager Ebbrell admits cup success is high on the Under-23s' agenda this term following last season’s Premier League 2 title-winning campaign.
And victory over Portsmouth would ease Everton into second spot in their four-team Premier League Cup group – with the top two teams advancing to the last 16.
The match will be streamed live on Everton's official YouTube page.
“It is another opportunity for our players to play at Goodison Park,” Ebbrell told evertonfc.com. “It is a completely different experience and we want them exposed to that as much as possible.
“We will be looking to make sure they perform to their levels and that Goodison is a positive for them – that they can express themselves and use it as another step on the ladder for them.
“This competition is important. Last season was about the league and we did not do particularly well in the cups. David and I have spoken about it this season and we want to do better in the cup competitions.
“The more games we can play the better – it helps the learning and development of the players. It is more enjoyable playing games and we want to stay in this cup competition as long as possible.”
Nathan Broadhead and Shayne Lavery were both on target when Everton won the reverse fixture on the south coast 2-1, back in October.
The sides were also paired together in the same group last season, winning one game apiece. But it was Portsmouth who finished top of the table, while Everton failed to reach the knockout stages after ending up third. Pompey currently hold a one-point advantage over the Toffees, but Everton have two games in hand - and three left to play after this week's encounter.
Ebbrell, then, is bracing himself for a demanding game in Tuesday's 7pm kick-off. And he acknowledges that his players know how vital it is to perform every time they pull on the royal blue jersey.
“Every month and every week is important to a footballer, especially at a young age," said former Everton midfielder Ebbrell.
“There is no getting away from it, it is an important time. There is a window open, so some players are looking at loans. And at the end of the season contracts are up, so players are always playing for their futures.
“The team that played at Tottenham last week did ever so well. We feel that if players are playing well and the team is winning, then there is not too much to change.
“It was a hard game against Spurs and the character of the players shone through to come from behind and win. Now we want to build on that.
“I am really looking forward to the game, as are the players. It will be a tough test. We have played Portsmouth a few times recently and they have all been tight games.
“We do not know if they will bring an experienced or inexperienced side. But it does not matter. We are ready.”
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