Former Everton defender Michael Ball has sympathised with Toffees midfielder Tom Davies in his Liverpool Echo column as the teenager struggles to replicate his 2016-17 form.
The 19-year-old bundled home a loose ball in the Crystal Palace six-yard box on Saturday to secure Everton's 3-1 win over Crystal Palace, after Oumar Niasse and Gylfi Sigurdsson had put the Toffees in front.
Only his first goal of the season, Davies has failed to show the kind of breakthrough quality that saw him touted as one of the Toffees best ever academy products last season - but Ball believes it harder the second time around.
Ball, who played for Everton during a five-year spell between 1996 and 2001, claimed that the opposition know who you are after you have broken through onto the scene and that is why the England Under-21 international has struggled.
"Second seasons are always tough for young players," Ball said. "Davies hasn't had the best of campaigns but the same goes for the rest of the squad. As a young player, in your second season, it is always difficult to keep progressing.
"The opposition finally know who you are and what you are good at because when you break in they know little about you and last season Tom was very dangerous.
"However, Wayne Rooney, Idrissa Gueye and him are working well together in midfield and they look like they trust each other, which is something that has been missing from Everton this season."
Davies has had to rival the likes of Morgan Schneiderlin, Gueye, James McCarthy, Beni Baningime, Davy Klaassen and Rooney for a place in the Toffees midfield this season, but has still managed to make 33 appearances.
His starring role for the Toffees against Palace will surely see him start next time out, with Everton not in action until February 24 as they travel to face Watford at Vicarage Road.