Michael Ball sympathises with Everton midfielder Tom Davies

Everton's English midfielder Tom Davies (2R) scores the team's third goal during the English Premier League football match between Everton and Crystal Palace at Goodison Park in Liverpool,...

Tom Davies has failed to show the kind of quality that saw him breakthrough into Everton's starting line-up last season.

Tom Davies of Everton celebrates after scoring his sides third goal during the Premier League match between Everton and Crystal Palace at Goodison Park on February 10, 2018 in Liverpool,...

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.

17 Oct 1998:  Michael Ball of Everton is challenged by Jamie Carragher of Liverpool during the FA Carling Premiership match at Goodison Park in Liverpool, England. The game ended 0-0. \...

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."

Andreas Cornelius of Atalanta and Tom Davies of Everton battle for possession during the UEFA Europa League group E match between Everton FC and Atalanta at Goodison Park on November 23,...

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.

Register for EVERTON team updates

Register for HITC Sport - Daily Dispatch