Fired-Up Dobbin Reveals 2021/22 Ambitions

Lewis Dobbin is targeting a regular flow of goals in his maiden season as a fully-fledged Everton Under-23s player – and says an exceptional pre-season and “unforgettable” First-Team debut at Manchester United has fuelled his confidence.

The 18-year-old striker also paid tribute to Duncan Ferguson’s coaching style, and explained how Under-23s manager David Unsworth and assistant boss John Ebbrell have progressed his all-round centre-forward play. 

Everton Under-23s begin their Premier League 2 campaign at Blackburn Rovers on Monday (7pm BST), with Dobbin aiming to transfer his prolific goalscoring displays during the young Blues’ summer friendlies into competitive matches.

In five games for Unsworth’s side across pre-season, Dobbin has hit 10 goals, including three hat-tricks.

His form was rewarded with a place in the First-Team matchday squad when Everton faced United in their final 2021/22 warm-up fixture last Saturday. He featured for the final 15 minutes of the game, which was played in front of a 55,000-strong crowd.

“I’m so grateful to be given that opportunity and hopefully it’s the first of many games I can play for the First Team,” he told evertonfc.com.

“Honestly, when I first stepped out and heard the crowd, it was unbelievable. It was just crazy. It still hasn’t sunk in yet! 

“In the build-up to the game, I can’t say I wasn’t nervous, because I’ve never experienced something like that before. But as soon as I stepped on the pitch, I felt comfortable. The lads helped me out throughout the game, too. 

“The manager and staff’s main message was just to enjoy it – to work hard for the team and show what you can do.”

Dobbin revealed he trained with the First Team on “four or five occasions” before making his Old Trafford appearance.

And the teenager says he has savoured the opportunity to learn from a legendary Everton striker in assistant manager Ferguson.

“Duncan has been helping me a lot with different finishing techniques and it’s really showing in my game at the moment,” he added.

“He can be harsh – and I love that. He picks up little things and it really makes you focus. 

“If you make a mistake, you make sure you don’t do it again. It’s all positive stuff that comes from him.”

The pointers from Ferguson, Dobbin says, has perfectly supplemented the guidance he has received from Under-23s coaches Unsworth and Ebbrell, as well as Under-18s manager Paul Tait.

“When I was playing under Paul, he liked to play me off the left as a left forward,” he says. 

“That helped me practise my movements more in different positions, so I can take that into my game.

“Now, in training with the Under-23s, they’re helping me with little things they think I need to improve on. My close-range finishing, my heading, my movement when the balls are coming into the box. 

“They’ve really helped me with my pressing from the front, too. My reactions have improved when I lose the ball, as well as my positioning when pressing from the front. 

“They’ve really drilled that into me. It’s become more of a natural reaction rather than them having to tell me to do it.”

Lewis Dobbin
Duncan can be harsh – and I love that. He picks up little things and it really makes you focus.

Dobbin is eyeing a consistent run of matches following a 2020/21 season severely disrupted by knee and calf injuries.

He explained how a demanding rehabilitation regime has helped him get into optimal condition for new campaign.

“I had a tough five or six months last season with injuries,” he said. “Over the summer break, when everyone else was off, I was in every day trying to overcome those injuries. 

“I came back into pre-season feeling sharp and I went into the first friendly feeling full of confidence. I put everything that happened last season out of my mind and started fresh.”

Dobbin’s goalscoring exploits helped fire Everton Under-23s to five pre-season wins against senior opposition in Warrington Rylands, Guiseley, Bradford Park Avenue and Chorley.

He says there is a tangible sense of excitement and anticipation within the squad ahead of Monday’s clash with Blackburn – and set out his personal ambitions for the campaign.

“This year’s Under-23s team is very young and we’ve had a lot of good tests in pre-season against physical sides,” says Dobbin.

“Going into Monday, it will be good to see how much we’ve improved on that side of the game, because Blackburn will be very physical.

“I’m feeling good, so I can’t wait. It’s been a while, with the injuries I’ve had, since I’ve been able to play in a league game.

“It will be good to have that competitiveness back and I’m just excited to go into it. 

“This season, I want to score regularly and get as many minutes as I can in the Under-23s. 

“And, hopefully, push on to the next step [in the First Team], train with them regularly and maybe even get more minutes.”