Marco Silva says Everton’s faith in young footballers is enabling those players to grow – and has the potential to reap handsome dividends further down the line.
The 21-year-old trio of Dominic Calvert-Lewin, Ademola Lookman and Jonjoe Kenny all started last week’s FA Cup victory over Lincoln City.
They were joined in Everton’s team by Kenny's fellow Academy graduate Tom Davies who, at 20, became the Club’s youngest captain earlier this season.
Only five times in the Premier League this term has a manager selected a starting XI boasting an average age younger than 25.
Everton boss Silva was responsible for three of those instances, while the side he picked against Lincoln had an average age of 24.8
“It is part of growing the squad and part of growing individual players,” Silva told evertontv.
“It is impossible a player who is 21-years old knows everything about the game, has all the details and control of everything in each moment of the match.
“But playing games will give these types of things to them, I don’t have doubts about that.
“It [the squad's average age] is one more detail [in developing for a strong future]. In some moments of matches, you can see there is not big experience and our XI is a bit younger but it shows us we have the conditions to grow.”
The oldest of the six pedigree outfield players Silva recruited following his summer appointment was Bernard, the Brazilian attacker who celebrated his 26th birthday one month after switching to Goodison Park from Shakhtar Donetsk.
Midfielder Andre Gomes is 25, so too left-back Lucas Digne. The central defensive duo of Kurt Zouma and Yerry Mina are both 24 and nine-goal Richarlison turns 22 in May.
Silva reserved praise for flying young winger Lookman following his goalscoring exploits in the Cup, backing the “quality” England Under-21 to mature into an influential figure at Goodison Park.
The former Sporting Lisbon and Olympiakos boss is nevertheless keen to retain an experienced cohort in his team.
Gylfi Sigurdsson had started 20 of Silva’s 21 Premier League games in charge and scored nine goals in all competitions.
The Icelander is still only 29 but has stacks of knowhow after more than eight years operating in Europe’s top leagues.
Midfielder Idrissa Gana Gueye is the same age as Sigurdsson and also in his ninth season playing at the elite end of his sport on this continent.
He has made 72 tackles in the Premier League this term, fewer only than Leicester City’s Ricardo Pereira.
With Silva also regularly calling on 30-year-old Seamus Coleman and Theo Walcott, 29, Everton have plenty of wisdom and nous assembled around their young core.
“The best way to grow is by winning games,” added Silva.
“We have to solve everything as a squad and we have these conditions [to find solutions on the pitch].
“We have a good mix in our squad. It shows us we have the quality… to do good things.
“Of course, we have to be patient in some moments.
“In football, I know you cannot ask many, many times for this type of patience but we have to be patient with some of them and give them conditions to grow.”