Dennis Adeniran says there is “lots more to come” from him this season after the midfielder made his long-awaited return to action in Everton Under-23s’ friendly encounter with Coventry City last week.
Adeniran’s first campaign with the Blues following his move from Fulham last year was prematurely ended by a knee injury in January.
He had progressively established himself as an influential figure in David Unsworth’s side and an energetic display against League One Coventry’s first-team in La Manga suggested Adeniran is eager to make up for lost time.
The 19-year-old’s combative approach ruffled the feathers of opponents many years his senior as Everton threatened a comeback after trailing 2-0 at the break. Adeniran was one of seven players introduced for the second half by Unsworth, with the Londoner’s progressive use of the ball another driving force behind the Blues’ improved showing following the restart.
There were promising signs, too, in Adeniran’s brand-new engine-room partnership with Dutchman Nathan Markelo.
“It was good to be out on the pitch – after being out for so long I was just hungry to get back out there, get back out with the lads and put on the jersey again,” Adeniran told evertontv.
“It was a great experience for me coming back [against strong opponents]. I am looking to get my fitness back, get the dust out of my legs and push on this season.
“Last season was up and down for me because I had a little injury. But I was getting used to Merseyside, getting used to Liverpool and I think I am settled down now.
“There is lots more to come this season, hopefully.”
Everton completed a deadline-day move for Adeniran last August, spiriting the teenager away from Fulham after he had made five first-team appearances for the West London club.
He marked his senior Fulham debut by scoring in a League Cup tie against Leyton Orient when he was only 17 in August 2016.
Adeniran’s Everton Under-23 bow came in a 4-1 thumping of Tottenham Hotspur at Goodison Park 10 days after he joined – and the young Blues won seven and lost only two of the 10 games in which he featured last term.
Capped by his country at Under 17, 18 and 19 level, he confessed the feisty midfield confrontation with Coventry was right up his alley.
And he is expecting to reap the benefits of a full pre-season under demanding boss Unsworth. The Toffees’ Under-23s worked like fury during their seven-day camp in Spain and this week are combining training ground graft at USM Finch Farm with warm-up matches against Bamber Bridge on Wednesday and Stockport County three days later.
“Unsy likes us running and being physical,” said Adeniran. “I had to learn to adapt, to always try your hardest. It is much more demanding at Everton [than what I was used to].
“Pre-season is always important. If you have a good pre-season under your belt, then you are good to start the season.
“I want to push myself through it with no injuries and push on at the start of the season.
“The Coventry game was very competitive. They have just been promoted from League Two, so we knew it would be a challenge.
“We had to match them physically because they have a lot of experienced players. We just had to give it a go and show no fear.
“That [combativity] is part of my game, so I have to get used to it. If you want to go on loan in these types of leagues, you have to handle the physical battle, so I am trying to get used to playing against physical midfielders – and trying to get as much experience as possible.
“I want to get back to full fitness, then hopefully push towards the first team or go out for a loan.”