'Complete' Davies Is Precious Everton Asset, Says Former Blue

by Paul McNamara

Leon Osman says dynamic teenager Tom Davies has the qualities to become a "complete midfielder" – and insists the swashbuckling Academy graduate has returned to Everton’s team a “more experienced and educated footballer”.

Davies has flourished in an attacking midfield role in each of the Toffees' past two home games. His zeal and tenacity contributed significantly to an energetic Everton display in the victory over Leicester City a fortnight ago.

And 19-year-old Davies crowned an exhilarating performance against Crystal Palace on Saturday by rifling home his team’s final goal of a 3-1 success in front of a rollicking Howard Kendall Gwladys Street End.

Manager Sam Allardyce – who has used 13 players aged 21 or under in his 15-match reign – recently urged the gifted Davies to add a clinical edge to his range of attributes.

And Osman, who enjoyed a distinguished 13-year first-team Goodison Park career and was in the Everton side on the day Davies made his debut against Southampton as a 17-year-old in April 2016, is thrilled to see his former teammate excelling on the big stage once more.

Moreover, the 36-year-old believes Allardyce has hit on something by employing Davies in an advanced midfield berth.

“Tom has the energy you need for that position,” Osman told evertonfc.com. “He is an old-fashioned player. He can go box-to-box and he can tackle.

"He is an all-round midfield player, which was lost from the game for a number of years. People wanted to be attacking midfielders or defensive midfielders.

“We lost the guy who wants to do the complete midfield job and do everything well. Tom is a throwback to midfielders of old and I think we will see a lot more of them over the next few years.

“And it is great that we have a young man like that coming through at Everton.

“I am pleased to see him back in the side. I always want to see players in the team who know the Club and have that passion for it. But your form has to merit being picked – and Tom’s does.”

Osman played an astonishing 427 games in all competitions for Everton, scoring 56 goals. Twice capped by England, he had loan spells away with Carlisle United and Derby County before forcing his way into the Toffees’ team under David Moyes.

He netted six times in 29 outings in his own breakthrough campaign in 2004/05, when Everton finished fourth in the top-flight.

Davies, by contrast, was swiftly propelled into the first-team fold off the back of his consistently excellent form for the Club’s Under-23 side.

And Osman, another product of Everton’s fertile Academy, insists the young Toffees star’s resilience was key to him adapting so swiftly to top-level football.

He is also advising Davies to study the methods of his senior colleagues on and off the pitch in order to further refine his own game.

“It is an incredible thing to have such experienced and quality players around you,” said Osman. “You listen to the coaches and are educated by the coaches throughout your development, and they really, really do help you. But there comes a moment when learning from other players is even more vital.

“You look at the top players you are playing alongside and figure out how they have come to be so good, how they have achieved their longevity and what they are doing that is working.

“You try to be a sponge to everything around you. So, the better players you have surrounding you, the more you will improve, if you are prepared to listen and learn.

“You will learn everything from Wayne Rooney on the pitch. Leighton Baines is a fantastic guy for keeping in shape, eating the right foods and doing everything he can to stay at the top.

"Gylfi Sigurdsson and Phil Jagielka have so much to offer. There are so many different people to learn from for every young player at Everton."

Davies has featured in 23 of Everton’s 27 Premier League matches this term – with 10 of those appearances coming as a substitute. 

And after the player’s stunning rush to prominence last term, when he started 18 of the Blues' final 19 league fixtures, Osman believes the resurgent England Under-21 international is capable of securing another extended run in the side.

“This is the development stage of his career,” continued Osman, who played in all 38 Premier League matches in 2013/14, when the Blues finished fifth, one position shy of booking a spot in the Champions League qualifying stages .

“It can be quite difficult when you break into the first-team at a young age, because you are expected to be close to the finished article.

“He has a number of years to develop and improve and the second season is always more difficult than the first season.

“But he has done well. He has battled his way through and now we are starting to see the re-emergence of a more experienced and educated football player.

“He is doing his developing while he is in the team. That is hard, because you will have dips and rises, which is a natural part of your progression. It is difficult to do it in the limelight, so you have to be mentally strong.

“And Goodison is a place where you have to be mentally strong to play week in, week out.

"Thankfully, he seems to have the ability to be able to deal with all of that.”

Osman last figured for the Blues on home turf in that match against Southampton nearly two years ago, when Davies made his first-team bow.

And he well remembers the rousing impact a fully-charged Goodison has on the home team – and its destructive effect on opponents.

Everton are currently in rude health on their own territory – they have collected 17 points from the 24 up for grabs since Allardyce watched his new troops thump West Ham United 4-0 in advance of his unveiling as boss back in November.

“I absolutely loved my time representing Everton and when things are going well there is no better place than Goodison to play your football,” added Osman.

“It is intimidating for the opposition, the atmosphere is incredible – the crowd are always really involved in the game – and when you are on a good run it is great to be able to use all of those things."

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