Everton star admits delight at Wembley involvement, outlines aims for future

Matthew Pennington was playing in League One last Tuesday but found himself in the squad for the FA Cup semi-final on Sunday.

Everton defender Matthew Pennington has revealed to the club's official website that he was stunned to have been given the chance to come back to the club and be part of the Wembley experience on Sunday.

The 21-year-old had featured just twice for the Toffees, both in cup competitions, before signing for League One side Walsall on loan until the end of the season just a few weeks ago.

However, he made just five League One appearances in April before being recalled by Roberto Martinez because of the enforced absences of Ramiro Funes Mori and John Stones for the FA Cup semi-final against Manchester United at Wembley.

Though Pennington was an unused substitute as the Toffees suffered last-gasp heartbreak, the youngster admitted he was thrilled to have been given the opportunity to feature in the biggest occasion of his career.

Pennington told the club's official website: "It’s been a bit of a whirlwind. I started last week playing for Walsall at the weekend and then again on Tuesday, was called back to Everton because of injuries and suspensions, and then found myself on the bench at Wembley.

"I was watching the derby at home and was talking to my parents asking ‘can I be called back?’. I didn’t really know if I could but luckily I got the call later on and I was straight back here. It was unbelievable! It was a great experience to be involved at Wembley, despite the result, but it has been a bit crazy for me lately.

"I enjoyed my time at Walsall. I was there for a few weeks and played five games. It was Saturday-Tuesday for much of that so I had a great time and got some minutes on the pitch. I feel good for it now. I want to try and push on into the first team from now until the end of the season. We will see what happens but I will keep working hard and see where that takes me."

Everton and Martinez have a strong track record at giving youth a chance, with players including Stones, Ross Barkley, Brendan Galloway, and Tyias Browning all having been given a chance after either being brought through the academy or signed as teenagers from lower-league clubs.

However, that has not been enough for the club to enjoy a successful season, and after Sunday's defeat ensured that a second disappointing campaign in a row under the Spanish boss will fizzle out.

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