Tom Davies

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What now? Everton’s Davies cheers on American juco

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It’s a small world, this footballing one.

It’s also not every day a Premier League player tosses out best wishes to a junior college in the United States of America.

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So it raised our eyebrows when Everton youngster Tom Davies, he of the 19 appearances this season, proffered a shoutout to the Indian Hills Community College men’s soccer team ahead of its NJCAA Tournament debut on Tuesday.

It turns out IHCC sophomore midfielder Adam Garner’s quite close with Davies’ older brother Liam, a left midfielder at National League side Chester FC.

“Basically I grew up with his brother,” said Garner, who’s played 20 matches this season for IHCC. “Tom’s only two years younger. I started to get to know him really well on a holiday with his family when he was 16. Since then, him and his brother have been like my best mates.”

Garner was taken aback after his freshman season, when he returned to home in December to find his buddy Tom’s career had exploded during the festive season. And as an Everton supporter, Garner’s witnessed his friend become one of the players on his favorite club.

“It’s my second year here,” Garner said. “When he broke through, it was when I went home at Christmas. I didn’t realize how big he’d become, so it was kinda mind-blowing.”

So while Garner’s supporting Everton, Davies has some love for coach Jon Fridal’s Warriors. IHCC won its first tournament match 1-0 over Louisburg and can advance to the semifinals with a win over Tyler College on Wednesday.

“We had a goal at the beginning of the season, and after last year our coach improved the squad a lot,” Garner said. “With the qualities brought in, we just took it game-by-game.”

Everton 4-2 Leicester: Toffees take wild game from start to finish

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Everton came into their matchup with Leicester City at Goodison Park having seen 22 goals fly into the back of the home nets in six Premier League games through 2017 so far. That total only climbed on Sunday.

Attacking play was on display from literally the opening whistle, as Everton scored 30 seconds into the match, setting the tone for a wild game from start to finish. The match saw three goals in the opening 10 minutes, five goals in the first half, and six goals overall.

The game was off to a flying start, as Everton set Goodison Park alight right from the opening kickoff. Kevin Mirallas barged his way through the Leicester midfield in the opening minute, and upon reaching the box, he was hauled down in the penalty area. Credit referee Bobby Madley for allowing play to continue, as the ball was touched to Tom Davies as Mirallas slid to the turf, and Davies smashed it in with his left foot for a 1-0 lead less than a minute in.

The home side, buoyed by its cracking start, poured men forward hoping to capitalize on the early momentum, and it would do them in. The early lead was wasted as Leicester hit on the counter with Everton stuck in the attacking half, and Islam Slimani put the Foxes back level.

[ MORE: Watch full PL match replays ]

Leicester would complete the quick comeback and go in front inside 10 minutes in stunning fashion. With Jamie Vardy earning a foul on the left edge of the penalty area, Marc Albrighton delivered a simply stunning free-kick, picking out the top right corner from a very tight angle. Everton goalkeeper Joel Robles will be highly disappointed with his failure to read the flight of the ball, but the effort was deserving of a 2-1 lead.

[ MORE: Latest Premier League standings ]

With Everton suddenly trailing, they turned to the Premier League’s leading scorer, and he delivered. Ross Barkley on the right flank put it on a plate with a pinpoint cross, and Lukaku was there for a simple and powerful header from point-blank range.

Everton should have had a third as the goal was gaping with five minutes to go until halftime. A slide-tackle by Davies sent the ball perfectly weighted to spring Barkley on the break, and while it looked that he had rounded Kasper Schmeichel, but the Leicester City goalkeeper recovered to get a slight touch and foil Barkley’s attempt.

But the Toffees would make amends on the ensuing corner, as Phil Jagielka rose high above the defense to glance a header into the far corner, putting Everton back in front 3-2. It’s the first time all Premier League season that two teams have combined to score five goals in the first half.

[ MORE: Full lineups, stats, box score ]

After the break, the fun continued. Lukaku bagged a brace, left entirely unmarked at the back post of a corner, and as the ball trickled to him, he thumped it home across the face of goal for a 4-2 Everton lead.

As the game ticked into the final 10 minutes, Leicester City looked to change the tide by bringing on attacking players Riyad Mahrez and Leonardo Ulloa. The latter found himself with a great chance immediately after coming on, but his 78th minute header off a corner pinged straight into the head of Idrissa Gueye directly in front of net. They got another big chance with three minutes to go as Ulloa headed a Mahrez cross on target, but it was stopped by Robles, and the rebound was cleared by Jagielka with Ahmed Musa looking to pounce.

The win left Everton in 7th position but brought them up level with Arsenal on points. For Leicester City, they miss the chance to pull into the top half of the table, instead sitting level on points with three other teams muddied in 11th place.

Tom Davies signs new five-year contract at Everton

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18-year-old midfielder Tom Davies has been a revelation since breaking through as a regular in the Everton first team this season.

Now he’s been rewarded.

Davies signed a new five-year contract on Monday as the England U-19 international capped off a stunning few months which has seen him hold down a regular starting spot in the Toffees’ midfield.

The local lad and academy product has been at the Goodison Park club since the age of 11 and is delighted to be following in the footsteps of other academy graduates such as Wayne Rooney and current teammate Ross Barkley.

“It means everything to me to get a chance to be in the Everton first team and to try to stay there,” Davies said. “Everton has a long tradition of bringing young players through and the incentive has always been there for me to try to progress with the club. I used to look at Mikel Arteta and aspire to be out there playing alongside my heroes and, obviously, Wayne Rooney and Ross Barkley who came through the Academy here, too, have been inspirational figures for me.”

Davies has made 16 appearances in the PL this season, scoring one goal against Manchester City and adding three assists and has impressed ever since he started in the Boxing Day win at Leicester City.

Alongside Mason Holgate, Matthew Pennington and Dominic Calvert-Lewin the energetic midfielder started in the Merseyside derby at Anfield against Liverpool at the weekend and his combination of poise on the ball and hard work off it has seen him slot in nicely alongside Idrissa Gueye.

His manager Ronald Koeman has never been afraid to give young players a chance to shine and he’s certainly found a gem in Davies who seems destined to be an England international and a star for Everton in the years to come.

Davies’ boss had the following to say about his rapid rise to the first team.

“He went straight into the team performing at a high level and has kept his feet on the ground,” Koeman said. “We’re really happy with his performances and, of course, proud. He’s a young player and that’s important for the rest of the Academy – to show you can make that next step like Tom did and, if that ends with a new contract, it’s perfect.”