Alex Denny says signing a new contract with Everton is a “special” moment – and the midfielder is fixing his sights on advancing his development in the next 12 months.
Denny, who has penned a deal to keep him at Goodison Park until the end of 2019/20, had a brief taste of first-team football last season, appearing as a substitute in the Toffees’ Europa League victory over Apollon Limassol before he had made his Under-23s debut.
When the 18-year-old did break into David Unsworth’s squad following the turn of the year he promptly established himself as a pivotal figure in the middle of the park.
Denny started the final five games of the campaign and captained manager Unsworth’s side in their mini-derby meeting with Liverpool back in April.
“To sign my first contract with the club I have been at since I was nine is special for me,” Denny told evertontv.
“I am looking forward to continuing my development and getting as close to the first team as I can.
“That [his smooth transition from Under-18 to Under-23 football] is credit to the staff and all the other boys who have helped me.
“There are differences in terms of the intensity but with the help of the staff, and me getting on with it and throwing myself in at the deep end, I took to it well.”
Despite a stated preference for operating as a holding midfielder, Denny is also comfortable in the centre of defence or at right-back and is confident his game will continue to evolve under the guidance of Unsworth and assistants John Ebbrell and Francis Jeffers, a trio that boasts 697 Everton appearances between it.
All three graduated through the Toffees’ youth system and Denny insists the Club’s formidable record for producing its own footballers underpinned his desire to sign new terms.
Denny was one of seven homegrown players to feature in Limassol last December, the 18-year-old replacing fellow debutant Harry Charsley late in the contest.
“It was a fantastic experience and to share it with the other lads from the Academy was brilliant and made it that bit more special,” said Denny.
“It has given me the hunger to go on and make more appearances and opens your eyes to the fact first-team opportunities are not that far away.
“This club has a track record of progressing academy boys, which is important for me. I know if I continue to work hard I can go on and do it.
“Unsy gets us working really hard and that is why his teams have done so well. It is adhering to those standards day in, day out which gets you into the first team, so they are important.
“All the players, and Unsy, Franny and John Ebbrell, demand the best from you, so it is second nature to go out and apply the highest of standards [in matches].
“I want to become a regular in the Under-23s, have a really good season with them and try to get as many training sessions and as much experience with the first team as I can and see where it takes me.”