Bassala Sambou insists the competitive, encouraging environment in the Everton Under-23s squad has been key to their impressive pre-season form, as the young Blues aim to make it four wins on bounce when they travel to Manchester United on Saturday (11am kick-off).
David Unsworth’s side have racked up 11 goals in their past three games. After winning 3-1 at Bamber Bridge on July 18, they saw off Stockport County 4-2 three days later before impressing again in 4-1 triumph over Chester last Saturday.
Skilful striker Sambou has netted in each of the past two matches, as the Toffees have twice recovered from 1-0 half-time deficits to wrap up thumping victories.
The 20-year-old, who joined Everton from Coventry in 2016, insists the team’s resilience is borne out of their team spirit and togetherness.
He says this been strengthened further during a tough pre-season programme, which included a demanding week-long training camp in Spain.
“We look like more of a team now as pre-season is coming to an end,” he told evertonfc.com. “We definitely look stronger and we’re coming out on top in games.
“We’ve worked hard as a team, especially in La Manga. Now coming back home, we are playing games against tough opposition and we’re doing very well.
“We’ve got a lot of spirit in the team. In the second half we always give each other encouragement to get going.
“A lot of players get on to each other and that’s what really wakes up and makes us want to perform even more.
“If it’s not us, then it’s Unsy encouraging us and he is the one that pushes everyone on, and everyone realises that we’ve got to step up.”
Sambou was a regular for the Under-23s in 2017/18, featuring in 20 of the young Blues’ 22 Premier League 2 games.
The German-born striker believes the squad have had the ideal preparation for their upcoming league campaign, which kicks off against Chelsea at Stamford Bridge next Sunday.
Sambou has been particularly encouraged by the side’s potency in attack during pre-season, with seven different players getting on the scoresheet over their past three games.
“It shows we have a lot of scoring ability in the team,” he said. “It’s a team game and that’s what we’re looking for as a team, to produce, perform and get results.
"It’s good to have a lot of players in the team that can score and create goals. We’ve come up against really tough teams who have got on top early on but we have adapted our games and found a way to win.
“Everyone’s doing so well, we look as fit as ever. We’re just happy that we’re close to where we want to be before the season starts.”