Everton Under-23s striker Ellis Simms has explained how his ruthlessness in front of goal is underpinned by his cool temperament and blossoming confidence, as he strives to fire the young Blues to success in 2020/21.
The 19-year-old also revealed why training alongside Colombian superstar James Rodriguez has been a “surreal” experience and how it has been “an honour” to learn from First Team manager Carlo Ancelotti.
Everton Under-23s take on Derby County at Southport FC on Monday night (7pm), with David Unsworth’s team aiming to build on a comprehensive 3-0 victory over Leicester City last time out.
Simms opened his account for the season against the Foxes – and was also on target in young Blues' previous meeting with Derby. The talented frontman netted a dramatic last-minute winner in a 2-1 triumph for Everton at Goodison Park in February.
The stoppage-time strike showcased Simms’ expansive range of attributes as he expertly controlled a pass from Tyler Onyango – taking out two Rams defenders in one swift movement – before accelerating towards goal and placing a precision effort into the bottom corner.
“That goal brings back good memories,” Simms tells evertonfc.com. "It was a big moment for us.
“In that situation, I just try to stay as composed as I can. Whether it’s in the first minute, the 40th or the 90th minute, you have to stay cool.
“I just had to remain calm and make sure I didn’t do anything rash and strike the ball how I normally would.
“I do a lot of finishing drills in training with [Under-23s coach] Franny Jeffers, and that helps me a lot, too. When it comes to a game situation, I know what finish to provide.
“I’ve become a lot more confident in my finishing and, whenever I get a chance, I feel like I’m going to score.”
Everton will face a Derby team who have taken four points from their opening two league matches of the season.
The young Blues, meanwhile, responded to the body blow of an opening day Merseyside derby defeat with what boss Unsworth described as “a proper Everton performance” in last Monday’s victory over Leicester.
“Unsy expected a reaction from the Liverpool game,” Simms explains.
“Everyone knew we had to win against Leicester and put in a strong performance. Everyone stuck together.
“We worked a lot harder with and without the ball.
“We just need to keep up building momentum. The team spirit is very good.”
Simms hit eight goals in 15 Premier League 2 matches last season, which was his first as an established member of the Under-23s squad.
The previous term, he netted an incredible 46 goals in all competitions for Paul Tait’s Everton Under-18s side.
Simms’ impressive development has seen him become a regular in First Team training at USM Finch Farm and he explained how he has learned from the elite-level talents in boss Ancelotti’s squad.
The teenager was part of new signing James’ first training session with Everton – and was perfectly positioned to witness Colombian mark the occasion by scoring with a spectacular scissor kick.
“I remember watching James in the World Cup, when he scored that amazing goal and had a brilliant tournament,” Simms said.
“It seems a bit surreal that he’s here now and he’s on the same training pitch as me, whenever I’m with the First Team.
“It shows how far I’ve come and how far the Club has come, in terms of what we’re aiming towards.
“You learn a lot training with the First Team because it’s a harder challenge playing against these top professionals, especially with the new signings we’ve brought in.
“They all help me a lot. Seamus Coleman, the captain, is great. He is always open to helping me so I can improve my game.
“Dominic [Calvert-Lewin] gives me some tips, too. We play in the same position and he’s in brilliant form, playing regularly in the Premier League.
"I want to get to that level, so it’s great to learn from him.”
Simms was named in a senior Everton matchday squad for the first time in July’s 1-0 Premier League victory over Sheffield United at Bramall Lane.
He featured in both Everton’s pre-season friendly matches, having been introduced by Ancelotti as a second-half substitute in the Blues' games against Blackpool and Preston North End.
“It was a great experience to get in the matchday squad and get minutes,” Simms added.
“I was so honoured to play for Carlo Ancelotti and for this club.
“He’s a top-class manager, who has achieved so much in the game. Everyone respects him, because he’s managed at the very top.
“It was great just to be in that [First Team] environment on a matchday and listen and learn from the manager’s team talks
“He demands a lot from the players – he makes you want to push yourself and do that bit extra for him. He gets the best out of you.”