This article is part of Football FanCast’s Pundit View series, which provides opinion and analysis on recent quotes from journalists, pundits, players and managers…
Everton U23s boss David Unsworth has praised the development of striker Ellis Simms after he struck the winning goal against Blackburn U23s on Monday.
The Toffees have started well this season and are unbeaten in five games in Premier League 2, winning two of those games, but Rovers ran them close and if it wasn’t for Simms’ decisive action in the last 15 minutes it could have ended in a stalemate.
The 18-year-old hasn’t featured too much this season, and indeed his substitution against Blackburn was the fifth occasion in which he had been brought on, and is still yet to make a start.
That could change, however, as he made a good impression on Unsworth through his movement, resulting in his first goal of the season.
Speaking to EvertonTV, Unsworth said: “I can’t praise Ellis enough for the work he has done since we came back for pre-season on 1 July. He is a work in progress, but he is a natural goalscorer.
“His movement when he came on tonight was exactly what we’ve been working on with him, and we’re delighted with that. When he gets into those positions, we know he’ll finish.”
Simms is a recent graduate to the Everton U23s having featured for the U18s prior to this year, for whom he was very prolific – scoring 41 in 44 games according to Transfermarkt.
The Everton academy has been successful in recent years with a number of players going on to become professionals, and individuals such as Tom Davies and Jonjoe Kenny playing regularly, at times, for the first-team.
Anthony Gordon is a player with great potential – with Borussia Dortmund interested – and if he and Simms can combine for the U23s regularly, like the duo did last night, they could make a good impression on not only Unsworth, but Marco Silva.
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Unsworth has been key to getting the best out of players. They trust them to play in a particular way which suits their strengths and if players listen to advice, as Simms appears to be doing, they could go on to become very effective first-teamers.
A first goal of the season is a step in the right direction for the 18-year-old so he will be hoping for more starts over the next few weeks, and if he gets that he could start to reproduce his excellent goalscoring form from the last few years.