Simms Talks Targets After Living A Dream

Ellis Simms has thanked Everton manager Rafa Benitez and assistant Duncan Ferguson after making "a dream come true" by accomplishing a First Team debut for the Club.

The powerful 20-year-old forward was handed a senior bow in the stirring 1-1 draw at Chelsea on Thursday, leading the attack from the start before being withdrawn for fellow Academy graduate Lewis Dobbin just after the hour mark.

And Oldham-born Simms, who joined the Blues aged 16 having previously spent time in the academies of Manchester City and Blackburn Rovers, says the experience has left him champing at the bit for more in the near future.

"On a personal note and on a team level, it was a great night," Simms told evertontv. "It was a brilliant place to make my debut - I'm grateful. I've been working hard in training and for it to happen is a dream come true.

"It was a big night. The team gave a big performance, every single player put a shift in and we stuck together, dug deep and got a good point. We're delighted.

"I was in the changing room and the manager read the team out - I heard my name and I just thought to myself, 'This is really happening'.

"I tried to stay focused, stay relaxed and embrace it because big nights like these are what you dream of and what you work for.

"I've been training hard and obviously now we have a few injuries up front, so there's an opportunity there. 

"I've been working hard and to let the manager know that I felt ready. 

"I feel ready to take the step up to the Premier League."

Simms has been in prolific form in front of goal in the past three seasons, beginning in 2018/19 when he notched an incredible tally of 46 goals in all competitions for the Under-18s.

Consistent improvements saw the striker promoted to the Under-23s, for whom he top scored in the first half of 2020/21, netting eight goals in 12 games.

That form earned Simms a loan move to League One outfit Blackpool in January 2021 and he made a seamless transition to senior football.

In 19 starts for the Tangerines he notched 10 goals, including a double in a play-off semi-final win at Oxford United before a groin injury cruelly prevented him from featuring in the play-off final victory over Lincoln City at Wembley.

Under-23s manager David Unsworth has previously described Simms' "hold-up play, threat and power" as "exceptional" - and the youngster was asked to draw on all of those qualities for a tricky first taste of the top-flight at Stamford Bridge.

"League One is obviously not as high a standard as the Premier League but I feel ready to make the step up," he continued. "I have to do the fundamentals and do the basics right because, at the end of the day, it's football so I didn't have to change too much. 

"Tactically, you have to be more switched on off the ball. 

"I was trying to embrace everything and listen to the manager's instructions.

"Chelsea are a great team so, obviously, coming here, they're going to have the majority of possession, so off the ball is just as important as on the ball. 

"I had to make sure I was in position and try to block midfielders and apply pressure at the right times. 

"We wanted to stay compact, we didn't want to press too high and let them play around us so positioning was important."

Standing at nearly 6ft 3in, Simms has obvious physical similarities with Assistant Manager Ferguson, a figure he credits as being crucial in his development. 

"Duncan Ferguson was a brilliant player and, of course, he's a massive Evertonian," said Simms. 

"He's been giving me little tips in training, telling me to keep working hard and the opportunity will come. 

"Thankfully, it did against Chelsea."