(Reuters) - Everton manager Ronald Koeman will continue to stick with his veteran first-team players because the club’s academy graduates are not ready to make the step up into the Premier League.
For last weekend’s loss at Southampton, Koeman selected five players over 30 and only striker Romelu Lukaku and midfielder Ross Barkley were under 27.
“We have young players but when is it time for a young player? I don’t believe now because still they are not ready and the pressure is more on now than it was,” Koeman told British media.
“The Under-23 competition cannot be compared to the Premier League. They train a lot with the first team and if there is a moment that they show they are on the level of other players in their position then I will give them the chance... They need time.”
Koeman recognises the need to reinvigorate his aging squad ahead of Manchester United’s visit on Sunday.
“We have some players close to the end of their career but still they are important players for the team. They are players with a lot of personality. Of course we look to the squad and we look what we need,” the Dutchman added.
“It is impossible to change everything or to change a lot in one summer. We need at least this winter and we need the next summer. That is also about the older players.”
With just one win in their last nine games, Everton have failed to live up to their early season promise and face a challenging December, with matches against United, Arsenal, city rivals Liverpool and champions Leicester City.
“Maybe it is good to make one step back and then with more confidence in the future to make two steps forward. That is the realistic situation at the moment,” Koeman said.
“Maybe players and the team has more doubts and having doubts is not the best way of showing your qualities... Maybe this time is the best to understand that if you need to change where we need to change.”
Reporting by Shravanth Vijayakumar in Bengaluru, editing by Ed Osmond