The Everton Under-23 side may have clinched the Premier League 2 title under former Toffee David Unsworth, but senior team manager Ronald Koeman is a little more tentative about the youngsters breaking through into the senior team next season.
Speaking at the pre-match press conference today ahead of Everton hosting Chelsea on Sunday, Koeman said -
"It's a really good achievement for the Under-23s. You play football to win. The title is not the most important, the most important thing is to bring good players to the first team but you play to win. If you win a title that’s a good achievement, but not the most important thing.”
The subsequent question was then how many of those youth players could break into the senior team -
"It’s difficult. Sometimes I feel there's too much positivism about the young players and I know they're not ready.
"I know how difficult it is to take the next step. Even though they won the title it doesn't mean everybody is ready for the first team.
"Look at the young players involved in the first team this season; Mason, Lookman and Dominic. An exception for Tom Davies.
“It’s a difficult last step. It's too easy to tell people we have a lot of players ready for the first team because that's not the case.”
"It’s impossible to have fifteen young players 25 and younger in the first team. I think now we have enough young players in the squad and it’s difficult because it’s easy to come in but difficult to stay.
“We need more players of the age from 26, 27, 28 and 29 to improve and of course we have to stay open to young players. It has to happen little by little, not too fast."
It’ll be interesting to see if this thinking affects Everton’s recruitment over the summer transfer window. Also, Koeman appeared to be initially down on the youngsters’ chance of making it into the senior team at the beginning of this current season, but appeared to change his mind late in 2016.