Marouane Fellaini found himself playing an unfamiliar part in his preferred anchorman role as the most senior member of Everton's five-man midfield in the club's final pre-season fixture against Villarreal on Friday evening.
The 23-year-old Belgian international topped up his match fitness with an hour-long run out in manager David Moyes' first-team, bringing an end to a productive warm-up schedule with a narrow 1-0 defeat in a competitive friendly at Goodison Park.
Fellaini put in a classy shift, to prove he is working his way back to full fitness after an injury lay-off that curtailed his 2010-11 campaign, and is confident that another week's training will help him further ahead of the season opener at White Hart Lane on Saturday.
"It was good for me [to face Villarreal] because I have not played all the games in pre-season," said Fellaini. "It helped my fitness as it was a hard game against a good team with good players.
"I still need to play more games and I need more training but I will be ready for Tottenham.
"All the players are excited about playing that first game. We are playing a good team and it is an interesting start to the season. Hopefully we can get a positive result."
Fellaini was joined in the middle of the park by 20-year-old Jack Rodwell and 17-year-old Ross Barkley on Friday, while Seamus Coleman (22), and Victor Anichebe (23), patrolled the flanks to complete a fresh-faced look to the Toffees engine room.
"We played a young midfield but they are good players and we need games together to develop the feeling, the understanding," he continued. "They are younger than me and that has to be good for Everton.
"Ross is only 17 and it is good for him that he is playing. He still needs to work on his game but he is already a good player."