Ronald Koeman says Dominic Calvert-Lewin is “always” in his mind after his brilliantly-taken brace sank Sunderland.
The England U20 golden boy was handed a rare start and responded by scoring twice in last night’s 3-0 Carabao Cup win, sub Oumar Niasse completing the victory late on.
Everton had gone into the third round tie on the back of a barren run came of four defeats, no goals scored and 12 conceded.
But Calvert-Lewin ended the Toffees’ 443-minute wait for a goal with some fine footwork and finisdh in the first half and struck a well-taken second in the 52nd minute.
It might now be difficult for the head coach to leave him out in the Premier League. “He’s always in my mind.” said Koeman. “He’s a young player, only 20, and sometimes you need to protect young players.
“He’s a good player, he scored a great first, that was a really important goal for us.
“He is working hard, doing well, he’s a good boy.
“But we have more players in that position.”
The striker was denied a hat-trick when his header came back off the post, before Niasse marked his first Everton first-team appearance since May 2016 by registering his maiden goal for the club with seven minutes to go.
It was therefore a sweet night for Koeman after a poor sequence of results, but he shrugged off any notion that he was under any pressure.
“I am always enjoying football,” smiled the Dutchman.
Koeman denied Wayne Rooney was left out of the 18 due to his conviction for drink-driving on Monday.
“It had nothing to do with his court situation,” he said. “I needed to rest some players and Wayne was one of them.
“He asked to play, but I said ‘no, you’ll play Saturday’.”
Koeman preferred to concentrate on his players who saw off Sunderland.
“There were performances that could have been better, but overall it was positive,” he said.
“Everyone tried to play, tried to impress.”