Kieran Dowell says his loan spell with Nottingham Forest helped him ‘grow up’ and now he is hoping to make his mark on Marco Silva’s Everton squad.
The 20-year-old playmaker has been on the fringes of the Blues’ Premier League squad for a couple of years following remarkable performances at various youth levels.
His recent number of pre-season performances have caught the eye and there had been hope that he would break into the first-team under previous boss Ronald Koeman.
However, the mercurial midfielder spent last season out on loan in the Championship.
He’s now back at Everton and is hoping to finally breakthrough.
Speaking to EvertonTV during the club’s Austrian training camp, Dowell said: “I’ve enjoyed it. The training has been really good but obviously, we’ve haven’t had too much pure running - more disguised running - but that’s what pre-season is all about.”
“He’s (Silva) great to work with,” said Dowell when quizzed about working with the new manager.
“He’s hands-on and he likes to control the training sessions. He’s really good to talk to and you feel comfortable in asking him a question.
“It’s been good.”
The midfielder continued: “It’s full on - it’s been hard graft but obviously that’s beneficial for us.
"Obviously, you seen last season with the gaffer at Watford, they got off to a flying start so hopefully, that's the same for us.”
Fresh starts all round
For the majority of players in Everton’s training camp squad, the few weeks of pre-season represent a fresh start.
Whether it be someone like Dowell, a youth player trying to make the grade, or a middling forward who hasn’t performed to the levels expected of them from the Everton faithful in recent seasons - everyone will have somewhat of a new chance.
However, Silva has already admitted that he’s made his mind up about a few players but further evaluation is still to be done on others - especially younger players.
That is something that the 20-year-old has picked up on.
“It is a clean slate for everyone and to come in again under a new manager, he’s got his own ideas,” added Dowell.
“He has had the time to look at everyone and has got his own point of view across.”
“He hasn’t signed any new players yet so it gives you a chance to put yourself forward and show him what you can do.”
His loan spell at Forest was closely watched by many hopeful Everton fans that have seen Dowell sparkle at the youth level.
As ever, he produced a handful of breathtaking long-range finishes but showcased a maturity in some performances - showing his development in being able to compete in all facets of the game.
Speaking on that spell, Dowell said: “It was my first experience of proper football. I played 40-odd games last season and I think I grew up a lot living on my own. Proper football meant having the need to win every game.”
"I learned about changing the way you play depending on how the game is going," he added.
“That was the plan of the loan, to get the experience and then come back and be ready for the Everton first team.”