Teenage midfielder Isaac Price says feeling the trust of boss David Unsworth has given him the platform to successfully transition to Under-23s football.
The Northern Ireland youth international has also revealed the Barcelona star he aims to model his game on and why he believes the young Blues are primed to deliver a strong finish to the season.
Everton Under-23s are in Premier League 2 action at Derby County on Monday night (7pm GMT) – and the game will be streamed live for Official Members as well as Season Ticket and Hospitality Members. Click here to find out more about memberships and to sign up now.
Aged just 18, Price has started all but one of Everton Under-23s’ Premier League 2 games this season.
He has been a composed and assured presence in the middle of the park, with his precise, imaginative passing helping dictate the Toffees’ tempo in games.
The Yorkshire-born youngster is still eligible to play for Everton’s Under-18 side and explained how Unsworth and assistant manager John Ebbrell have given him the confidence to thrive at a higher level.
“They gave the opportunity to play with the 23s when I was only 17 last season – they put that trust in me,” he told evertonfc.com.
“I appreciate everything they’ve done for me, and they work with me on a day-to-day basis in training on things I need to improve on. It’s great.
“Week in, week out, they’ve played me.
“They tell me to be confident and play like I would if was playing against players my own age. They tell me not to worry if the players are older, that I’m just as good as them. And that If I perform the way I can, they believe in me.
“Hopefully I can keep my level high and repay the help they've given me.”
Price’s impressive progress was underlined towards the end of the 2020/21 season, when he was named in Everton senior matchday squads for the Blues’ away matches at Brighton & Hove Albion and Tottenham Hotspur.
Price, who joined the Blues’ aged seven, outlined the key areas he believes his game has developed in recent years – and named the modern-day midfielder he counts as an inspiration.
“I’d say my athleticism, passing and awareness are my main strengths,” he said.
“I like to play little clever balls around the corner and help to set up attacks. But there is still a lot I need to work on and many things I need to get better sat.
“My preferred position is probably at number eight, where I can go forward, try to get in the box, but also contribute in the defensive side of the game as well.
Price added: “Frenkie de Jong is definitely someone I look up to. I like his composure on the ball and how he gets away from players. He’s always relaxed and picks out good passes – and he scores goals, too.”
Next up for Price and Everton Under-23s is a Premier League 2 clash at Derby County on Monday night (7pm GMT).
Price is convinced the young Blues are well placed to string together a positive series of results, citing the growing connection between the players.
“We’ve been improving as the season has gone on,” he said.
“It was a tough start and we had a few difficult results, but we’ve got a lot better as a team.
“We understand each other a lot more now. There’s more chemistry between the players, and that’s showed in our performances.”
Official, Season Ticket and Hospitality Members can watch a live stream of Monday night’s Premier League 2 clash at Derby County on evertonfc.com. Our coverage begins at 6.45pm. To find out more about memberships and to sign up, click here.