Nikola Vlasic's father, Josko, has expressed his disappointment at the way his son has been dropped from Everton's first team since the turn of the year.
The Croatian midfielder was signed for £8m on transfer deadline day last August after impressing Ronald Koeman and Steve Walsh in Hajduk Split's two-legged Europa League qualifying play-off and he started his Goodison career in promising fashion.
He made eight appearances between his arrival and the end of 2017, most of them under Koeman before he was sacked in November, but was largely overlooked by the Dutchman's successor, Sam Allardyce, until he was handed a rare start in the New Year's Day defeat to Manchester United.
Vlasic hasn't made an appearance since which has drawn understandable criticism from his father.
“It's not my place to talk about a new coach, to talk about the expertise or actions of a new coach,” Josko told Croatian publication Dnevno. “I would explain it differently.
“Everton is a club that has to live from young players. Everton cannot buy a £100m player and it's not likely anyone worth a hundred million would come to a club such as Everton who [do] not fight for trophies, is it?
“Therefore, Everton have to live from young footballers — foreign or English — that is all the same. And there's a problem with Nikola, who started great and was then [pushed] off to the side.
"Nikola is progressing day by day. Where he is today is better than he was a year ago or a few months ago. He should be the prospect of the club, not some older players.”
Allardyce tried to explain Vlasic's predicament recently, citing a lack of confidence as the team in general has struggled for consistency this season and indicating that he expects the 20-year-old to kick on next season.