Jonjoe Kenny stressed the importance of remaining “fit and focused” during his spell out of the Everton starting XI after his return to first-team action against Leicester City on New Year’s Day.
The Blues were edged out 1-0 at Goodison Park but Kenny’s accomplished performance earned praise from boss Marco Silva.
The right-back seamlessly stepped back into the side in his first senior game for almost three months. His previous outing came in the reverse fixture against the Foxes on October 6, when Everton ran out 2-1 winners at the King Power Stadium.
The defender almost marked his display with a maiden Toffees goal – his rasping drive midway through first half rattled the upright with Leicester keeper Kasper Schmeichel beaten all ends up.
Kenny’s desire to get on the ball and make things happen for the Blues was emphasised by the fact he had more touches (107) than any other player on the pitch.
He defended with typical tenacity, too, making the most clearances of any Everton player, while only Andre Gomes surpassed his total of tackles.
Academy graduate Kenny believes his mental strength and professionalism was key to turning in such an assured display.
“I’ve just got to keep myself focused and keep fit because you never know when you may get a chance, and you have to perform," said the England Under-21 international.
“I’m happy to be back, to get a game and hopefully I can keep on playing well and stay in the team.
“I thought my shot had a chance to go in, but it hit the bar. I was gutted. It was a tough game for us. We created a few chances but to come out with a defeat is not what we want.
“It’s tough to take but we go again on Saturday and try to put things straight in the FA Cup against Lincoln.”
The game was Kenny’s 33rd senior appearance for Everton.
The 21-year-old believes this experience was a further important factor in delivering such an mature performance after a period out of the first team.
He added manager’s Silva’s progressive philosophy has helped to develop the attacking side of his game.
“I’ve played a good few times for Everton now,” he said. “I’ve just got to keep calm and enjoy the experience. I’ve played in big games and when I get my chance I just want to do what I can do best and try to perform.
“I want to be creating chances. And, I think the way the gaffer wants us to play, it’s helping me out to go and do that.
“But defensively, that’s what I'm here for. To stop crosses, get out to people and make tackles. That’s what I want to do.”