David Moyes has told Leighton Baines not to worry about a frustrating first season at Everton.
Baines was tipped to make a big impact at Goodison Park when he arrived from Wigan last summer, but he has made just 14 starts this season.
His progress has been hampered by a succession of hamstring and ankle problems, while the good form of his rivals has made it difficult for Moyes to bring him in when fit.
However, Moyes went to see Baines in action for the reserves on Tuesday and has stressed to the 23-year-old that he has a future at the club.
The Everton boss said: "I've spoken to Leighton. I've reassured him. But he has got nothing to worry about because he has got a big future as a left-back here.
"If we are going to challenge for trophies in the future, I honestly don't think there can be a guaranteed place for anyone.
"We have got competition everywhere. The three central defenders have been absolutely top drawer.
"There are people here who we are desperately trying to get games, just look at Leighton.
"We think the world of him and he is going to be our left-back for a long time to come.
"But, just at the present time, for different reasons, he is finding it hard to get in.
"He has picked up one or two niggling injuries and that has cost him. But I can see him being Everton's left-back for many years."