Everton assistant manager Steve Round has challenged young prodigy Jack Rodwell to make an Everton first team spot his own.
With Marouane Fellaini now sidelined for the rest of the season with an ankle complaint, the window has opened for Rodwell to seize his first-team chance in central midfield, starting at Newcastle United this afternoon.
The 19-year-old remains one of the brightest young things in English football having forged a burgeoning reputation since his record-breaking debut in Alkmaar more than three years ago.
But Everton assistant manager Steve Round believes the time has come for Rodwell to start realising that undoubted potential and take his career on to the next level over the remaining 11 games this season.
“He’s as good as I’ve seen, there’s no question of his potential,” says Round. “But the whole point of potential is that he hasn’t quite reached it yet, we’ll see where he is in two, three years’ time.
“The sky is the limit for him, I think he can be a tremendous player for Everton and for the national team in the future.
“He’s the one that has got to knuckle down and do it on the field.”
Rodwell began the season with high hopes only to suffer a serious ankle injury of his own in the defeat at Aston Villa in August.
Since his return, the England under-21 international has found it difficult to maintain his form and a first-team place, with the start in Tuesday’s FA Cup defeat to Reading only his 10th of the season.
But Round hopes he is past his injury problems and ready to excel in the Premier League run-in.
“He’s had a few injuries this season but he looks to have come through that now,” he adds.
“It’s up to him to take the mantle on, he’s certainly got the talent and he’s certainly got the physical presence.
“He’s well regarded and well thought of throughout football and you can see that on the international scene.
“But you mustn’t forget he’s only 19 coming up to 20 but it’s time for him to establish himself.”