David Unsworth lavishes praise on Matthew Pennington after youngster's Premier League debut

Everton Goodison 2

The Everton academy manager says the 21-year-old is already one of the best professionals he has ever worked with.

Everton academy manager David Unsworth has heaped praise on young defender Matthew Pennington after he made his Premier League debut in the win over Bournemouth on Saturday, as broadcast by Everton's Twitter account.

Pennington had just a single Capital One Cup start and one FA Cup substitute appearance to his name for the club before he was recalled from a loan spell at Walsall to serve as a substitute option in the FA Cup semi-final defeat to Manchester United a fortnight ago.

Although he did not get any match action that day, he played the full 90 minutes alongside already-established youngster John Stones in the injury absence of captain Phil Jagielka and the suspension of Ramiro Funes Mori at Goodison Park last weekend.

Unsworth, who has been in his role as academy manager at his former club for the past two years, admitted earlier this week that he was delighted with the success of the youth system after attacking prospect Kieran Dowell was also given his bow as a late substitute.

The former defender, who made nearly 350 appearances across two spells with Everton, admitted that it was a proud moment to see Pennington given the nod to start by Roberto Martinez and hailed the youngster's maturity and commitment.

Unsworth said, as shown by the club's Twitter account: "It's always a proud moment. He's a top professional, one of the best professionals I've ever worked with. He's a great, humble lad.

"We've got a very intelligent, humble, young, good footballer who works on his game, who is intelligent enough to always want to be better, to look at his performance after every game and ask the right questions, to spend time with the coaches to put solutions to those questions.

"He just epitomises what a young top professional is at this club, he is a credit to be around and a credit to work with."

Pennington is unlikely to keep his spot in the centre of defence when Funes Mori returns from his suspension, but with Jagielka facing a race against time to return before the end of the season, the youngster could still add further minutes of action before the end of the campaign.

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