Sam Allardyce says that Nikola Vlasic is one of the young players of whom much is expected next season after falling out of the first-team reckoning lately.
The promising young Croatian made a positive start to his career at Goodison Park after joining from Hajduk Split at the end of August, that despite the rest of the side struggling through the final weeks of Ronald Koeman's reign as Everton manager.
Used infrequently by interim boss David Unsworth as he tried to settle the team, Vlasic has been ignored by Sam Allardyce since his last start on New Year's Day against Manchester United, joining the ranks of younger players like Ademola Lookman and Mason Holgate who have lost their place in the senior side.
Allardyce points to the number of young players who have turned out for the Blues this season but admits that not all of them are benefitting from regular action.
Where Vlasic is concerned, he tacitly acknowledges that the 20-year-old is unlikely to get much more game time this season because of the need to focus on seeing the club to Premier League safety and that he will have to be patient.
“It's been a difficult season for him,” Allardyce said of Vlasic. “We've had so many young players [and] those players have come out with an awful lot of credit this season for what they have actually achieved and what they have actually done.
“Unfortunately, some of the more senior players haven't hit the heights that, certainly, I would have expected on a consistent basis.
“So, when you talk about Vlasic, it's another young player and their confidence may suffer. It's his first season here and next season we would like to see more of those young talents flourish.
“The disappointing thing for that young talent is some of it is playing and some of it isn't,” Allardyce continued, speaking more broadly about the breadth of youth at Everton and the need to monitor its progress.
“At the moment in time, more of it is not playing so that is a great concern for us because development for them is about them playing at those teams on loan that are not as good as Everton, so that gives us an indication about where their development is.
“For me, we keep an eye on those all the time. The system is in place to monitor all those players but my main focus is week in and week out to try and get another result, to the end of the season and then look at the overall structure of the football club and try to get it better going forward.
“A lot of change is why the club is in the position it's in at the moment. Certainly, I've got to bring stability to the club in the hope of pushing forward.”