Tom Davies is hoping his encouraging performances for England U21s will help him to force his way into the Everton first team.
The 21-year-old has seen just 11 minutes of competitive action for the Toffees this season, with the likes of Andre Gomes, Fabian Delph and the now injured Jean-Philippe Gbamin ahead of him in the Goodison pecking order.
Despite that lack of action Davies was selected to start both of England U21s’ European qualifiers over the weekend, being asked to play in a slightly deeper role.
The midfielder even captained the Young Lions as they came from behind to beat Turkey 3-2 in Istanbul on Saturday. Norwich’s Ben Godfrey took the armband against Kosovo three days later but that didn’t stop Davies putting in an impressive display that earned the praise of manager Aidy Boothroyd.
“Tom was outstanding. He’s not playing for his club side, to put those two performances in. We’ll see how that holding role develops.”
Davies admitted he liked playing in a deeper role but insisted he is willing to play anywhere in order to fit into the side.
“I’m not really too bothered about where I play as long as I’m out there but I am enjoying the deeper role.
”I’m fitting into that role quite well with this team and the players in front and behind me.
”For me to be in that position, it’s a good one. The leadership seems natural really.
“For the lads that have been playing for the England U21s quite a lot, you naturally fit into that role and there’s a lot of good lads in there who are willing to lead and I happen to be one of them.”
The issue of Davies’ position is one that has dogged him ever since he broke into the first team.
His fine goal against Manchester City in 2017 raised expectations about his attacking prowess, with subsequent displays suggesting he simply does not have the attributes to be an attacking midfielder. His performances in a defensive midfield role have not been spectacular either, though he can point to the mitigating circumstances of entering the first team picture during one of the most turbulent times in the club’s recent history.
Since making his Everton debut three and-a-half years ago Davies has played under six managers (counting Joe Royle and David Unsworth as caretakers) in a number of different positions and formations.
After being a regular during the first half of last season and even captaining the side on occasion, Davies didn’t start another match after the defeat to Wolves on February 9 and has only one late substitute appearance under his belt this campaign.
Though he might not like it, some time away from the first-team picture while things settled down could just be what Davies needed.
The Premier League is an unforgiving arena and very few young players get a second chance if they don’t hit the ground running straight away. Fortunately for Davies he has retained the faith of Marco Silva.
That was demonstrated by the fact a member of Everton’s staff texted him after the Turkey game to say they had watched him in action wanted to congratulate him on his performance.
He hasn’t been forgotten.
Buoyed by an encouraging few days Davies is ready to take the momentum gained through those two international performances back to Finch Farm.
“I got a text after the Turkey game so it’s all been good and positive, they watched the game and it was one of the staff that text me.
”It’s been good to get away and get two games under my belt.
”I’m happy, though, with everything that is going on and it’s been good for me so I’m looking forward to getting back to Everton and carrying on hopefully.”