Fraser Hornby revealed scoring in Everton Under-23s’ victory over Chelsea on Monday night “reminded me how good that feeling was”.
The 19-year-old striker missed more than three months of action having undergone ankle surgery, with the clash at Southport FC’s Merseyrail Community Stadium representing his first start since 5 October.
The Scotland Under-21 international wasted little time in making an impact upon his return, with his precision finish on 26 minutes setting the young Blues on their way to a 2-0 victory – a result which sees them remain at the top of the Premier League 2 table.
Hornby believes he will continue to improve as he strives to achieve optimum fitness, setting out his determination to play an important role in the Toffees’ title tilt.
“I thought we played really well as a team [against Chelsea] and I knew that, with the players we’ve got on the pitch, I’d get a chance to score and thankfully it went in,” he said.
“I’ve been out for a long time. I haven’t had that feeling in a while and it just reminded me how good it was.
“I’m getting there with my fitness. I probably need a few more games until I’m totally fit again but I’m hoping to get there soon.
“As a team, we’re in a really good position at the minute but we know in this league every game is tough and anyone can beat anyone.
“We just need to keep putting in performances like we did [against Chelsea], and hopefully by the end of the season we’ll be champions.”
Hornby was also instrumental in Everton’s second goal on Monday, winning the penalty that allowed strike partner Bassala Sambou to slot home from the spot on 74 minutes.
The Scot’s combination play with Sambou impressed throughout, with boss David Unsworth declaring “it was a partnership that showed a lot of promise”.
“I’ve got a good relationship with Bass on the pitch and we really enjoy playing with each other,” Hornby added. “It makes it a lot easier for me.
“We both like scoring goals and we try and help each other, we’re not selfish and we’re happy when either of us score.”
Unsworth’s talented squad has also been bolstered by the availability of defender Lewis Gibson and midfielder Alex Denny, who have also recently returned after lengthy spells on the sidelines.
Hornby detailed how the encouraging atmosphere among the players undergoing rehabilitation helped to keep spirits high.
“The physiotherapy staff and other injured players helped me a lot mentally,” he said.
“Me and Lewis, in particular, were going through a similar injury. We were out for a similar amount of time and we were doing all of our sessions together.
“I’m really good mates with him, too, so having them there throughout the whole process that made it a lot easier
“Ultimately, I just wanted to get back playing. I couldn’t wait to get back out there with the boys."