Everton youth prospect David Henen could be included in David Unsworth's squad to face Leicester City on Sunday (29 October) after revealing that he is "close" to making his first-team debut for the Toffees.
Henen, 21, joined the Merseysiders in the summer of 2014 but has so far failed to break into the senior squad at Goodison Park. Former managers Ronald Koeman and Roberto Martinez decided against utilising the young Belgian's talents during their ill-fated spells, but David Unsworth, who has worked with Henen when coaching the Under-23s, saw fit to promote him and Beni Baningime to first-team training earlier this week.
Baningime was afforded a start in Everton's 2-1 Carabao Cup defeat by Chelsea at Stamford Bridge and has certainly staked a claim to keep his place against Leicester, who appointed Claude Puel as their new manager on Wednesday.
Henen, a versatile forward with pace and trickery, is hoping he can follow in Baningime's encouraging footsteps: "I'm very happy to be close from my debut, I will keep working hard!" he wrote on Twitter. "Can't wait to show u what i can do. See you soon."
Henen would not be the only Everton Under-23 star to be involved against Leicester: Baningime, Dominic Calvert-Lewin, Jonjoe Kenny, Tom Davies, Ademola Lookman, Mason Holgate and Oumar Niasse have all spent time with Unsworth in the Toffees' youth ranks and will all be hoping to start against the former Premier League champions this weekend.
Everton produced a much-improved display against Chelsea and were ultimately unlucky to suffer defeat after dominating the Premier League champions on their own turf in the second half, but their lack of clinical edge in front of goal cost them dear, with Calvert-Lewin's late strike proving to be mere consolation after Antonio Rudiger and Willian had put the hosts 2-0 up.
The defeat against Chelsea was Everton's eighth of the season in all competitions, but Unsworth's men and the club's supporters will be no doubt encouraged ahead of their clash with Leicester, who will hope Puel can start his reign at The King Power Stadium with three points.
The performance from the beleaguered Toffees pleased Unsworth to some extent, and 'Rhino' will be hoping to see more of the same when his side pitch up in the Midlands, though he knows only a win will do.
"Hopefully we will be as committed as that in every game that I am in charge of," Unsworth told Everton's official website. "We want to get on a winning run but we can't be where we are and expect to win every game. You have got to start with a performance.
"We started with a great display tonight but we want to know go and start a winning streak. But when I see and hear older pros helping the young lads out like they did, then it makes me quite excited to take us forward and work with everybody.
"We had a game plan and the players stuck to that. I am very proud of them. Nobody likes losing but I saw so much to work with in a great, committed performance.
"I'm pleased but not too pleased because we have lost the game. The players have gone over the white line and put in a committed display. I am sure every Evertonian watching that, be it here or at home, was proud of that."