Everton Under-18s defender Jack Tierney says the young Blues must mix passion with control in Saturday’s Merseyside derby showdown at Liverpool FC Academy (11am BST).
A lifelong Evertonian, Tierney admits the clash holds special significance for him and insists the team are determined to build on an encouraging run of form with victory over their city rivals.
Everton have won four of their past six matches and sit second in the U18 Premier League table, one point and two places ahead of Liverpool.
Tierney, 16, says there is an additional edge to training ahead of the derby encounter – but outlined the importance of keeping a cool head in the heat of battle in Saturday’s contest.
“There’s definitely that extra buzz for this game, especially for us local lads,” he told evertonfc.com.
“I’ve been a Season Ticket holder at Everton since I was five, so it’s the biggest game of the season for me.
“You’ve got to have that drive [to win] but also you have to be controlled so that, when you’re making your decisions, they’re not rash.
“You need to keep doing the right things to help the team out.
“We’ve been training well and we’ve had a decent run of results going into the game.
“There is confidence among the team. Even in training now, everyone is at their best. When the lads are playing and training at a high level, that only spurs you on and makes you a better player.”
Everton go into Saturday’s game on the back of a 1-1 home draw with Newcastle United last weekend.
The Toffees scored an outstanding team goal to take the lead early in the game, with Halid Djankpata applying the finishing touch following a splendid passing move.
While Tierney admits Everton were frustrated to concede an equaliser 20 minutes from time at USM Finch Farm, he says the Blues’ first-half display offers a blueprint for how they must strive to perform on a consistent basis.
He added: “In the first 45 minutes [against Newcastle], we were great on the ball and out of possession.
“The intensity was there and we showed that extra drive to back each other up.
“For me personally, it’s about being consistent now and trying to keep more clean sheets and be more dominant against the strikers.
“That’s my overall aim.”