Marco Silva says promoting and polishing Everton’s young talent is an essential part of his remit as the Club’s manager.
Dominic Calvert-Lewin, Jonjoe Kenny and Kieran Dowell are all with the England Under-21 squad preparing for Tuesday night’s European Championship opener against France, while Tom Davies was a likely inclusion until a shoulder injury ruled him out of the tournament.
The Blues players' participation in the Italian finals continues a recent tradition of Everton being strongly represented in elite international competition.
Kenny, Calvert-Lewin and Dowell were all Premier League 2 winners with Everton Under-23s in 2017 before tasting success on the global stage as key components of England’s Under-20 World Cup triumph in the same year.
Silva, who gave 22-year-old Calvert-Lewin an extended run at centre-forward in the final months of last season, insists the development of Everton’s 2018-19 Under-23 double winners is high on his agenda.
Indeed, the manager routinely incorporated members of David Unsworth’s young Blues in first-team training sessions during his first campaign at the Goodison helm.
“Maintaining this connection between the first-team and Under-23s is part of our job,” Silva told evertontv.
“It is really important. The connection between us [first-team staff] and their technical staff is daily.
“We always speak or are in contact.
“We have the Under-23s not only to play their games – it is important they are there to support the first team; that is also their job.
“A very good number of them had the opportunity to work with us during the season.
“That is always important for them and it is important for me, too, to see them working close-up.”
Calvert-Lewin, scorer of the goal which sealed England Under-20s' World Cup final victory two years ago, featured 35 times in the Premier League under Silva.
The former Sheffield United player came into his own late in the campaign, starting 10 matches on the spin and sitting out the final day clash with Tottenham Hotspur only after sustaining a knock in training.
He is expected to spearhead England’s attack against France in Cesena on Tuesday night. Aidy Boothroyd’s side face Romania on Friday and three days later tackle Croatia.
The competition’s cut-throat nature means only group stage winners are guaranteed a semi-final spot.
That scenario will hold no fear for serial-winners Kenny and Dowell. The Everton Academy graduate duo were Toulon Tournament champions with England 12 months ago, while right-back Kenny’s CV also boasts of success at the European Under-17 Championship in 2014.
Kenny, who captained Everton Under-23s in their triumphant 2016-17 season and has made 40 first-team appearances, will continue his development on loan with Bundesliga team Schalke 04 next term.
The current Under-23 class added the Premier League Cup to their league title. Player of the Year Nathan Broadhead’s contribution to those twin successes was recognised by Wales boss Ryan Giggs, who summoned the 21-year-old for a post-season training camp in Portugal.
And Silva wants Unsworth’s youngsters to follow Kenny's lead and use their heady campaign as the catalyst for their own growth.
“Those [trophy wins] were really important moments for them and it was good for the boys to enjoy those experiences,” added Silva.
“They are here to learn and improve but, in the meantime, they have competitions to try to win and they did that.
“It is important to develop players – and if you can develop them playing in decisive matches that is the best thing to do.
“Playing these types of games, finals or decisive matches to win something, is really valuable for them.
“It puts them under pressure and in football you live under pressure every day.
“If they can start to do that in the Under-23s or Under-18s, it is a big advantage.
"Those matches at the end of the season, to win the league and cup, were important moments – and it was good to see our team happy and enjoying the winning feeling.”