James Garner has revealed the objectives manager Sean Dyche has set for him at Everton, including an increase in his attacking contributions.
During the 2021/22 campaign with Nottingham Forest, Garner registered an impressive 12 combined goals and assists to help his on-loan club seal promotion from the Championship.
Last term proved stop-start for Garner following his summer switch to Everton from Manchester United, however, after a back injury kept the midfielder sidelined from November until March.
When the 22-year-old returned, Garner immediately fought to impress new manager Dyche, his hard work being rewarded at the back end of the season when he was handed starts in seven of the Blues’ eight final Premier League matches.
Garner admitted he was grateful to Dyche for giving him the opportunity to shine and explained how adjusting to a new style of play, plus adding more in the final third, were key areas Dyche highlighted for him to develop.
“He [Dyche] gave me a chance, which is ultimately the most important thing,” said Garner. “It was up to me to take it, which I feel like I did. He gave me that chance and confidence to play - to show what I can do with belief.
“His style of play is very different, so he just wants me to adapt, get forward and pass forward. He also really wants me to get goals and assists. That’s what he’s telling me to do each week and in the games that I play. He really wants me to shoot, cross and assist - that’s what he’s trying to help me with."
Garner is currently away on international duty after being selected by England Under-21 manager Lee Carsley for this summer’s European Championship being held jointly in Romania and Georgia.
The Blues youngster is hoping to play a starring role in the tournament and acknowledged the versatility he showed at Everton in the closing weeks of the season could prove crucial in helping him secure regular minutes in Carsley’s competitive young Lions side.
Garner was called on to play multiple roles for the Blues, most notably at the end of the season filling in at right-back and wing-back for both Seamus Coleman and Nathan Patterson who were unavailable due to injury. Despite having previously never played such a position in his career, Garner excelled and earned praise from Dyche for his attitude, focus and performances.
“Me playing right-back toward the end of the season was obviously something different," added Garner. "I feel like I know the game well and feel like I can fit into any position the manager would like me to play. It was just like another game for me, really.
“Of course, it was different and difficult. However, I feel like I can play there and do a job for the team.”
James Garner. Baller. Grafter. ✨💪— Everton (@Everton) May 29, 2023
Top class at RWB yesterday! 👏 pic.twitter.com/Bn0PSZNTPM
While Garner has spent the entirety of his career so far honing his abilities as a talented central midfielder, he accepts the wing-back role is one of increased importance and does not have any objections to playing there again for either Club or country.
“The people who get the most touches on the pitch are most often full-backs,” he added. “In the modern game now, the full-backs create a lot and are the key people you tend to look at in a starting XI. It’s a position that has definitely evolved a lot. If I am chosen to play there, I will be more than happy.
“I feel comfortable switching positions. From defence to midfield, midfield to right-back. I feel ready and more than capable of doing it.”