Roberto Martinez has decided the best way to ease the pressure on his job is by trusting Everton’s youth players for the remainder of the season.
The Spaniard knows some fans are calling for his head, with protests planned during’s Saturday’s visit of Bournemouth, but, as of yet, there have been no moves by the board to get rid of him.
The Toffees currently sit 11th place in the Premier League, and, although it may result in falling closer to the bottom three, Martinez is looking to incorporate youth players in the final weeks of the campaign.
Tom Davies and Callum Connolly both made debuts from the bench against Southampton last month and with injured trio Phil Jagielka, Seamus Coleman and Gareth Barry joining the suspended Ramiro Funes Mori in the stands, there could be more chances.
Matthew Pennington, recently recalled from a loan spell at Walsall, could feature at the heart of defence and a debut for 18-year-old playmaker Kieran Dowell – who scored a hat-trick against Leicester’s Under-21s in midweek – appears imminent.
Martinez said: “Kieran has been outstanding in his performances, I don’t think you could find a better adjective than ‘outstanding’ to describe the consistency he’s had with the Under-21s and the quality he brings.
“He was involved with the first-team (squad) earlier in the season but picked up an injury and I feel he’s ready now to be given an opportunity in the first team.
“Every young player at Everton has a specific programme and path to get into the first team. We’ve already seen Tom and Callum make their debuts and they were very impressive in the manner they did.”
John Stones and Ross Barkley are two recent examples of inexperienced players rising to prominence – and full England honours – through the Everton ranks.
They proved themselves to Martinez whenever handed the chance in the first-team, and the head coach has urged any upcoming debutants to show a similar drive to impress.
“Whoever is on the pitch needs to reach a level of intensity or responsibility or drive or quality,” he said.
“It’s no good going through the motions or expecting you’re going to have the opportunity to represent Everton for the rest of your career.
“Whoever is on the pitch for different reasons – and there are certain players who deserve opportunities or need to show what they can do – needs to show that sort of level every single minute between now and the end of the season.
“Every position in the table matters and every point matters.”