Stubbs: Conor's A Real Threat
Under-21s coach delighted to see striker back to his best.
Striker Conor McAleny is back to his predatory best after finally putting a torrid stint in the treatment room behind him.
That's the opinion of Everton Under-21s coach Alan Stubbs, who watched the 20-year-old net his fifth goal in six second-string outings on Monday.
The strike - an unstoppable hit from 20 yards - helped the young Blues overcome Chelsea and maintain their place at the top of the Barclays Under-21 Premier League Group 1 table.
But McAleny, whose form has helped the Under-21s go unbeaten so far in 2013, missed much of the first half of the season after suffering a succession of niggling injuries.
Now back among the goals, Stubbs senses the Huyton-born hitman is rediscovering the form that led to a first-team debut against Arsenal in December 2011.
"Conor looks lively, he looks positive when he gets the ball, looks a real threat to opposition defences and he puts defenders on the back foot, which from a forward's point of view is a great thing to do," Stubbs told evertonfc.com. "From a defender's point of view, trust me, it's not great when strikers do that.
"I think he's back to where he was before he had all his injuries and he's doing great at the moment. I'm really pleased for him."
Everton will put their unbeaten record on the line against Aston Villa on Sunday as the Midlanders visit Southport's Merseyrail Community Stadium.
Villa currently sit fifth in the Group 1 standings with seven points from their five matches.
The Blues' lead over second-placed Fulham is now five points having played a game less and Stubbs sees no reason for his side not to hold off their chasers.
Topping the seven-team group would secure a play-off against the winners of Group 2, with a place in the overall league play-offs the eventual goal.
"Our players shouldn't fear anyone at the moment the way they're playing," Stubbs continued. "They're doing all the talking at the moment in terms of the results, the performances and the football, which is great. And that's all I can ask of them.
"They've got a great spirit among themselves, a great camaraderie, a willingness not to be beat and, when you've got that, anything is achievable. The results are showing that at the moment.
"I know if they put the performances in the results will automatically come with that. On one or two occasions since the turn of the year, the performances haven't been that great but even then they've shown the character to not get beat.
"Against Chelsea on Monday I wanted them to play good football and show a different type of character to win the game from in front. To be fair, they did that, and it was very pleasing."
Sunday's game at Southport kicks off at 2pm. Entry is free for Season Ticket holders and FOREVERTON members. Entry on the gate for all other supporters is £5 for adults and £3 for concessions.
For live updates from the game, follow us on Twitter @Everton. To see highlights of the Under-21s 1-0 win over Chelsea, click here.
For a full explanation of the Under-21 league set-up, click here.