Everton Under-23s striker Ellis Simms is confident the young Blues' “spirit and quality” can propel them to Merseyside derby success at Southport FC on Monday night (7pm).
Simms described the strong sense of anticipation within the squad ahead of the clash, which will be streamed live for Season Ticket and Official Members on evertonfc.com.
The talented attacker, who turned 20 last week, will be aiming to continue his outstanding goalscoring form so far this term. He is the joint top-scorer in Premier League 2, having hit eight goals in 11 games in 2020/21.
Victory on Monday night would see Everton leapfrog sixth-placed Liverpool in the table, with David Unsworth’s side currently just one point behind their city rivals in the table.
And Simms believes a mini-derby triumph can light a fire under the young Blues’ season.
“It’s a big rivalry and the game means so much to the staff and fans, as well as the players,” he told evertontv.
“Everyone knows, whenever we play them, the expectation is to win. No matter how we do that.
“That’s what all the focus is on – winning. If we play well, that’s a bonus.
“It’s been over a month since our last game. This is our first game back and it’s brilliant it’s the derby.
“Everyone is raring to go. We’ve had a nice little rest and everyone’s feeling recharged and full of energy.
“The spirit’s been good, we’ve been training well.
“We have to make sure we’re at the top of our game to give us the best chance of winning against Liverpool.
“And if we win, then the feeling around the camp will be very good.”
Manager Unsworth, of course, boasts vast Merseyside derby experience, both as a First-Team player and as Under-23s boss.
Simms explained how Unsworth has stressed the need for the Blues to maintain composure in the heat of battle.
“The key thing for us is to work hard, focus on what the manager has told us in training and apply that in the match,” Simms added.
“And while it’s a Merseyside derby, we have to make sure we keep our heads and not do anything rash.
“We want to build our way into the game and hopefully get the three points and move up the table.
“With the quality of players we’ve got, we can definitely do that.”