Anthony Gordon says he has the “ability and belief” to seize an Everton first-team opportunity – but the 18-year-old forward is ignoring the hype around his undoubted potential.
Gordon, who joined Everton aged 11, has surged into the limelight with a succession of stellar performances and eye-catching goals for the Club’s Under-23 team this season.
He was included in Marco Silva’s squad for the Blues’ trip to Southampton a fortnight ago and maintained his prolific form on international duty with England’s Under-19 team this month.
Gordon scored twice in two starts for his country over the past week, adding to his six Club strikes this term.
The teenager’s single competitive senior Everton appearance came as a 16-year-old in a Europa League tie against Apollon Limassol in December 2017.
He featured in pre-season this year for manager Silva, a confirmed admirer of the player, and is training regularly with Everton’s first team.
Gordon nonetheless insists he won’t be tricked into thinking he’s ‘made it’ as a footballer.
“I still don’t think that,” Gordon told evertontv.
“I just try to enjoy myself and get better every day.
"You never sit down and think, ‘I have a chance’.
“That is for other people to say.
“I am just trying to keep getting better and progressing.
“I haven’t played one game competitively for the first team [bar those two minutes in Cyprus].
“To be around it shows I am progressing well.
“But I am not there yet. I am not starting for the first team and I still have so much to do.”
Gordon confesses he was startled to learn of his first-team call up two years ago.
He was still playing Under-18 football and initially apprehensive when summoned to David Unsworth’s office to be told the news.
Equally, Gordon admits to an unfamiliar feeling of nerves when coach Duncan Ferguson told him to get ready for action against Limassol.
"I couldn't believe it when Unsy told me and I rang my mum straightaway," says Gordon.
"I enjoyed every minute of it but after Duncan called me back [from warming up] everything went so quickly."
Gordon started to consistently feature for Everton’s double-winning Under-23s only in the final stretch of last season.
And the player cites his 2018 pre-season with Under-23 boss Unsworth as a major factor in his blistering start this time round.
"I saw how hard it was with David Unsworth in La Manga and thought, 'I am not going back unprepared [this season]',” says Gordon.
“I went on one holiday, then came back and trained every day.
“That set me up perfectly for the season.
“I have been mentally preparing for this [involvement with the first team] since last pre-season.
“I am starting to show I can cope with that level.
“I have the ability and believe in myself.
“If I got the chance I would do what I always have: trust in my ability and work hard.”
Meantime, Gordon says a combination of his own reflective personality and his family’s honesty will keep his feet on the ground.
“I am harsh on myself and unless I am unbelievable in training every day, I expect to not be picked,” added Gordon.
“My family criticise me just as much as I do and that helps me.
“If you just have people telling you, ‘You played well’, you will never learn.
“I remember things from the Under-23 games, what I have done wrong, how would those things would effect a first-team game?
“I am always trying to get better.”