Leighton Baines played 45 minutes for Everton’s U-21 side as a central midfielder on Sunday – 18 months after manager Roberto Martinez earmarked him for a position switch.
The England full-back has not played this season because of an ankle injury, and has watched from the sidelines as Brendan Galloway has impressed.
Baines could compete with Gareth Barry and James McCarthy for a place in Everton’s midfield; neither has missed a Premier League game this season.
Martinez took Baines to Old Trafford to watch Philipp Lahm in action in April 2014.
“I’ve always thought Leighton can develop into Lahm’s role, it is in his make-up,” the Everton manager said at the time.
“Not this season but in seasons to come he is someone who can play in that central role. I wanted him to watch Philipp Lahm in a live game because when it’s on TV you only see the player when he’s on the ball.
It was good for Leighton to watch a player I feel he can be as good as or even better.”