Everton Under-23s centre-back Joe Anderson credits boss David Unsworth for developing his tactical awareness and working on specific defensive techniques to elevate his all-round game.
Anderson has started the young Blues’ past five Premier League 2 matches and impressed as part of a three-man central defence.
The 20-year-old boasts quality, composure and ambition in possession and his intelligent use of the ball regularly helps set up Toffees attacks.
Anderson says Under-23s manager Unsworth – who made 350 First-Team appearances for Everton during a highly-successful playing career – has encouraged him to utilise his ball-playing ability while helping him become a more robust defender.
“With every training session and every game, I feel I’m improving on the defensive side of my game,” Anderson told evertonfc.com.
“On the ball, I know I can play. I’ve worked hard on getting better defensively.
“Unsy has helped me a lot in training on areas like my positional play and dealing with crosses.
“When we can, he encourages us a lot to play out, too. We do work on it a lot in training when we’re working on team shape.
“When I'm on the ball, the first thing I look to do is look for people further up the pitch – and if that’s not on, then I’ll play into midfield or out wide.
“There are some games when you’d love to play out but sometimes it’s not on. You have to adapt.”
Next up for Everton Under-23s is an away clash with Chelsea at Kingsmeadow on Friday (7pm GMT). The game will be streamed live for Season Ticket and Official Members on evertonfc.com.
Victory could lift the Toffees into the Premier League 2 top four. Everton go into the game sixth in the league table, one place above Chelsea.
“They are always tight games against Chelsea and it will be a test for us,” added Anderson.
“We had a disappointing result against Tottenham [a 2-1 defeat last Friday] but we can definitely bounce back.
“I feel we have enough in the squad to cause problems for them.
“As long as we keep it tight at the back and play our game, I’m confident we can get the three points.”
Season Ticket and Official Members can log on to evertonfc.com on Friday to watch Chelsea Under-23s v Everton Under-23s by using their usual username and password and watch the game via our video player.