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Jags: Squad Is Strong

Skipper says youngsters are bolstering group to new levels.

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Phil Jagielka believes Everton's youngsters are strengthening the squad to great effect this pre-season.

Ross Barkley and John Stones each played 45 minutes in the 3-1 win at Blackburn on Saturday, with Luke Garbutt also emerging as a late substitute.

The trio were part of an Everton quintet that returned to Finch Farm later than the majority of the squad following their involvement in the Under-20 World Cup.

And with the likes of Shane Duffy, Tyias Browning, Conor Grant and Apostolos Vellios among those picking up a taste of first-team action this summer, Jagielka insists their enthusiasm is benefiting the entire group.

The skipper told evertontv: "This is the strongest squad we've had for pre-season for a while.

"Normally it's been interrupted and we've only had 12, 13 or 14 players, but the manager has got probably 16 to 18 players plus a few of the younger lads on the periphery as well.

"It was fantastic to see Ross come back and enjoy himself and play well. The same goes for John. The manager's got quite a few young lads to look at and that can only make us stronger."

With Everton showing attacking intent and composure on the ball in midfield at Ewood Park, Jagielka admits the group is progressing well under new boss Roberto Martinez and notes that the action was pleasing on the eye from his viewpoint in defence.

He said: "It's always nice to be scoring goals and the most important thing is to be creating chances - we did that a lot in both halves.

"We could have created a few more, but we're not going to get carried away - it's only pre-season and a few of the boys have only been back a week or so.

"We're still building up for the start of the season and hopefully when you speak to me in a few more weeks we'll be converting even more chances and looking more solid at the back.

"The manager is excited with the potential he sees and that is the state of play at the moment. We're nothing like a finished project yet, but we put in a really good performance. We're a little bit disappointed to concede the goal, but other than that I thought we pretty much controlled the game.

"We gained valuable minutes and a few of the lads came back a bit later than others so it was nice to see them get their first outing and nice for Jela to get a couple of goals."

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Colin WilliamsBarkley will be a top player for us this season. All the top clubs in Europe will be after his signature in 18 mths. Get the boy on a 6 yr contract now Robbie!!!!

Sunday 28th July 21:37 Report Comment

Colin WilliamsGive the kids a chance! Give them the opportunity to show all of us their potential. Believe in them.

Sunday 28th July 19:19 Report Comment

Colin WilliamsGutted about alcaraz! This guy is going to be top class 4 us.

Sunday 28th July 18:46 Report Comment
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