Seamus Coleman says fellow right-back Jonjoe Kenny set a “great example” for aspiring young talents with his “brave” loan move to Bundesliga club Schalke 04.
Everton Academy graduate Kenny insists he is returning from Germany a “better player and better person” and is vowing to fight for a First-Team spot following 34 appearances for his temporary employers last season.
Coleman sees elements of his younger self in 23-year-old Kenny, drawing parallels between the players’ respective developments and single-minded attitudes.
The two defenders played a half each in Everton’s opening pre-season meeting with Blackpool, the club where Coleman had a transformative loan spell 10 years ago.
Kenny’s outing at Bloomfield Road last Saturday was his first in an Everton jersey for 17 months as he seeks to kick-start a Goodison Park career which has yielded 40 senior appearances since a debut in May 2016.
“Jonjoe made a brave move and he is a great example for any young player who might not be getting a game,” Coleman told evertonfc.com.
“He could have stayed in his comfort zone but Jonjoe wants to play football.
“I touched base with him while he was away, checking on him and congratulating him on his performances.
“It is great to have him back. He is the same as ever, 100 per cent in training and good quality.
“He has shown other young players the value of going out and playing.
“It was a great move for him. He had a manager who believed in him and he did exceptionally well.”
Kenny was a fixture for Schalke, starting all 31 Bundesliga games for which he was available and adding three German Cup appearances.
He started eight times in the Premier League the previous season but is now eyeing a scrap with captain Coleman for Everton’s right-back position.
Everton visit Blackburn Rovers for a friendly next Tuesday and wrap up their pre-season fixtures at home to Preston North End four days later, ahead of a trip to Tottenham Hotspur on the weekend of 12/13 September to start the 2020/21 Premier League campaign.
Coleman is entering his 12th Goodison season and has played 319 games for the Club – 312 of them since an exceptional temporary stay at Blackpool at the back end of 2009/10.
“I see some similarities between Jonjoe and me when I was younger,” said Coleman.
“He gives everything in training, every day, and wants to be the best he can.
“Those loan spells can turn you into a man.
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KENNY RETURNING A 'BETTER PLAYER AND PERSON'
“He was playing for a big club in Schalke and every point would have been important.
“I am sure he learned a lot and is eager to get going.
“Every player in the squad has to show the manager every day why we should be training with this team and fighting to get in the side.”
Everton’s condensed pre-season is further complicated by international fixtures scheduled in the final week of preparations.
Coleman for one will be away with Republic of Ireland in the opening week of September for Nations League games against Bulgaria and Finland.
But the 31-year-old harbours no concerns over being up to speed for Everton’s competitive opener at Spurs following a concerted training period under Ancelotti and the Italian manager’s meticulous backroom team.
“The coaching staff have been great since they came, they are young and very enthusiastic and provide great support for the players and have fitted in brilliantly with the people already here," added Coleman.
“All of them demand 100 per cent from the lads every day and the manager speaks for himself.
“We didn’t have a long break but were all training during lockdown so are quickly recovering our fitness.
“We have a couple more games, then an international break before the season starts, and it is different.
“It is new to everyone but it is what is happening in the world at the moment and we need to make the most of it.
“It is our responsibility to give our maximum every day and try to achieve the improvement we all want.”