Garbutt Targets Top Spot
Defender confident as Under-21s look to extend lead.
Luke Garbutt believes Everton are on course to finish top of the Barclays Under-21 Premier League Group 1 table after their splendid start to 2013.
The Blues host Aston Villa at Southport’s Merseyrail Community Stadium on Sunday, with Alan Stubbs’ side looking to extend their unbeaten run to 10 games.
Villa represent the only side Everton are yet to face in the group and a sixth victory in seven outings would see the Club’s second-string go eight points clear of nearest rivals Fulham with a game in-hand.
“The mood around the place with the Under-21s is really good at the moment,” Garbutt told evertontv. “We're in a good place and the team is doing really well. We'll look to get a good performance in and win the game on Sunday.
"Stubbsy set us a goal at the start of the second half of the season to be unbeaten in this group and I think we can do that to be honest. We've got a good enough set of players and whoever comes in - if some of the lads go up with the first-team and we bring some in from the youth team - all the players are well equipped to play at this level.
"I think if we keep performing the way we are, there's no reason why we can't go unbeaten. There's a togetherness and we're starting to show that when we go in front, we can hold out in games. We're defending really well at the minute and not conceding goals, so all the signs are good."
On a personal note, Garbutt is pleased to have shaken off the injuries that hindered the first half of his 2012/13 campaign.
After making his first-team debut in August’s Capital One Cup victory over Leyton Orient, hamstring and ankle trouble put the 19-year-old out of action until the New Year.
But having returned without a hitch to play a part in his side’s recent good run, the Harrogate-born starlet is now focused on getting truly back to his best.
"It's been steady since I came back and I still think there's more improvement to come from myself,” said Garbutt. “I haven't really had back-to-back injuries before but, coming back, I'm getting the games, feeling stronger and getting more match fit.
"I think I improved with the Chelsea game on Monday especially. I just need to play more games, find some form and you never know what can happen between now and the end of the season.
"I've had a few shouts at going out on loan, but my coaches didn't want me to due to my injuries. I've just got to keep working hard in training with Taff [Andy Holden], Stubbsy and David Weir to build my game and we’ll see from there."
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.