James Garner admits he "can’t wait" for the upcoming Premier League season after the midfielder played 45 minutes in Everton's 1-0 friendly victory against Stoke City.
The 22-year-old finished the last season as one of Blues’ most in-form players, before heading off to play a starring role in Lee Carsley’s England Under-21s side as they lifted the European Cup this summer.
He was named in the starting line-up by Sean Dyche for Saturday's win, which extended the Blues’ unbeaten run in pre-season to four matches.
Garner acknowledges that while it’s still only pre-season, he believes the victory at Stoke is evidence of an improving mentality across the squad that can help deliver a better campaign in this upcoming season - and he is eager to contribute significantly to that.
“We went to the very end and scored in the 94th, or 95th minute,” he told evertontv. “It’s only pre-season, but it shows the mentality that we’re fighting until the end. The fans were right behind the goal and right behind us the whole game.
“Hopefully it is going to be a much better season as a team, and for myself. If I have a good season, then I am going to help the team and we need to do better than last season. From what I have seen this week, we look sharp and everyone is ready. I can’t wait."
Garner reported back for pre-season earlier this week and, despite a shorter break than many of his teammates, revealed he thoroughly enjoyed being back out on the pitch for the Club.
“It was nice to be back in a blue shirt and to get 45 minutes under my belt,” said the midfielder. “I had two or three weeks off, but it was nice to be back in a blue shirt and in front of the fans.”
“It helps to have such a good summer and not have much of a break. I feel ready and it’s kept me going. I feel ready coming into the new season, and that 45 minutes definitely helped.”
“I can’t wait for next week now back at Goodison. Hopefully, there will be a good turnout there, and we get a result.
"Ultimately, we’re looking forward to the first game of the season, we need to prepare right and make sure we are ready to go.”