Callum Connolly admits Everton’s players are all “on their toes” in a bid to impress Marco Silva – as the Academy graduate revealed how the Blues squad are enjoying learning the new manager’s brand of “fast, flowing football”.
Having spent last season on loan with Ipswich Town in the Championship, Connolly is back at his boyhood club and determined to impress Silva this summer.
The 20-year-old has played 45 minutes in each of the Toffees’ two pre-season friendlies to date – the 22-0 win over Austrian side ATV Irdning last weekend and Wednesday’s 1-1 draw at Bury.
The versatile Connolly, who can play anywhere across the backline and in centre midfield, says the Blues are thriving from Silva’s meticulously-planned training sessions and believes everyone is going all out to catch the eye of the Portuguese going into the 2018/19 campaign.
“Everyone’s got a clean slate and even the senior pros are looking to impress the gaffer,” said the Litherland-born youngster, who has one first-team appearance to date after coming on as a substitute for Seamus Coleman against Southampton in April 2016. “Everyone is on their toes and looking to impress him. We’re all enjoying our time and learning off him. Hopefully the next few weeks can be good, too.
"We want to keep playing this fast, flowing football, having the ball and being composed with it. The manager has worked us hard over the last two or three weeks in training as well and the lads have benefitted from it.
“We’ve got a lot to work on over the next few weeks - we know that - but we are taking everything day by day. It’s just about getting fitness and getting match time for everyone.”
Connolly has featured in central midfield in Everton’s two pre-season friendlies so far and pointed to more international success this summer as key to getting him match sharp for action.
A year after helping England Under-20s to World Cup glory alongside fellow Blues Kieran Dowell, Dominic Calvert-Lewin, Ademola Lookman and Jonjoe Kenny, Connolly was part of the Three Lions’ Under-21 squad which won the Toulon Tournament in France last month, joined by Kenny, Dowell and Tom Davies.
Asked if playing tournament football has helped him hit the ground running back at Everton, Connolly told evertontv: “Yes, it has. If I hadn’t gone away with England, I would have had five or six weeks off and wouldn’t be at my peak now. Going away in the summer with England for the Under-21s has given me a boost of confidence and stood me in good stead for the start of pre-season.
“I am happy playing in midfield I like to play a lot more football there but I’m happy to play anywhere for Everton. If the boss wants me across the back four or in the midfield, I’m happy.”