Sean Dyche was left pleased by what he saw from his Everton side as the Blues capped a solid pre-season with a 1-0 win over Sporting CP at Goodison Park.
Dominic Calvert-Lewin slotted home from the penalty spot on the stroke of half-time to secure the victory and complete an unbeaten pre-season for the Blues.
Sporting CP represented Everton’s toughest test of the summer and headed to Goodison in high spirits following a productive and previously unbeaten pre-season campaign, but Dyche felt the Blues handled the challenge well.
Reflecting on the win, he told evertontv: “There’s still some extra sharpness to come, but those games are important.
“It’s still not the real thing, of course, but fantastic turnout in numbers from the Evertonians. We thank them for that.
“Playing European sides, we know they are very methodical. Very technical in the sense of keeping the ball, which is good. It’s kind of like that in the Premier League. Maybe a bit slower at times than the Premier League, but you know, that kind of feel. So, your shape is important, your tactical understanding and then how you break their game up.
“Overall we did that well at times. A bit wasteful in transition a couple of times, the first half more so. But second half we were slightly more productive and got about them better. There were some good habits in there, but we aren’t naïve to the fact that the Premier League is different. Still, we use these games wisely.”
Calvert-Lewin's goal late in the first half represents a significant step in his return to full fitness. While Dyche will have been pleased to see the 26-year-old back on the scoresheet, he admitted that his current priority is getting the forward back to peak condition with the new Premier League campaign set to begin next weekend.
“Dom’s not quite ready yet,” he explained. “We need to be careful with him, but he has got two 45 minutes in this week which is pleasing. And another couple of others who need topping up.
“The first thing is about trying to get him ready. I am not worried about the rest (in terms of scoring goals). He has had a tough period. We are trying to get him ready and truly fit. He is on a good pathway for that. This is another step in the right direction.”
With all of Everton’s pre-season fixtures now completed, focus switches to next week’s league opener against Fulham.
Dyche admitted, though, that the Club are still working hard to add reinforcements for the new season, while also praising the impact that some of the younger players in the squad have had this summer, with Lewis Dobbin, in particular, attracting acclaim.
“We are a bit stretched as a squad and we still are in the market," said Dyche. "We are attempting to sign players who can make us stronger.
“There’s been some good showings from the young players, though, especially Lewis Dobbin who deserves a real mention because he has had a fantastic pre-season.
“Obviously, Jarrad (Branthwaite) coming back in after getting over injury. He’s come in and adapted to what we are doing. Those two, among others from the young lads have done well.”