Everton manager David Moyes admits the impending departure of veteran Phil Neville has highlighted what a considerable rebuilding job has to be done at the club.
The Toffees captain announced this week that he intends to leave when his contract expires at the end of the season in order to prolong his playing career. Moyes began the rebuilding process last summer by allowing experienced midfielder Tim Cahill to leave but he knows more significant changes are necessary.
"I do think there is a big rebuilding job to go on at Everton," said Moyes, whose own future is unclear as his contract expires in June. "With Phil going that is a big piece of the jigsaw which will leave and if we make Europe we are going to have to find a way of bringing in five or six players because of the way your squad is affected. We have a few players getting near the end, we have a little bit of an ageing team."
He added: "We have not invested an awful lot over the last five or six years so we have to now be looking to see how we do that, how we get the team moving forward and get some younger players in as well as developing our own.
"That is the hard bit. We have a few players in their 30s and we have to start looking to replace them but supporters also want us to continue playing at the top of the league. You get the young players in and they might need a bit of time to settle in and be given that period.
"It is a tough act for us at the moment because we are trying to get that balance of keeping up at the top end of the league and obviously having to try to change over the age group of players we have. It happens at all clubs. It all comes to an end and teams continue to evolve."
Moyes would have loved to have kept Neville, who will have a coaching role with England Under-21s at this summer's European Championships, on the backroom staff. However, with the 35-year-old keen to squeeze as much out of his remaining playing career as possible, Moyes accepts his decision and has already installed Phil Jagielka as captain-elect.
"If Phil wanted to stay I would certainly be delighted to have him on the staff because he has a great feel around the players and understands the game very well but he is hoping to play a bit longer," added Moyes.
"He has been great for Everton, a terrific player and captain and someone who we will greatly miss because his influence around the club is really special. We are all disappointed he is leaving but we accept and respect his decision. I am sure he will have a big future in coaching and management when he decides the time is right. It will be a big loss to us."