The Future is Bright, The Future is Blue
As the Roberto Martinez reign begins, it’s clear from his words that the key to Everton’s future will be in the youth set up. The excellent Finch Farm is starting to produce results with the emergence of John Lundstram, Chris Long, Ross Barkley and Shane Duffy combined with the scouting of youth bringing in the likes of Matthew Kennedy, Luke Garbutt, John Stones and George Green.
Currently the club have 5 players away at England under 20 level and the recent purchase of Finch Farm by Liverpool City Council have made the training ground a more financially sound investment.
Matthew Kennedy made the first team squad last season
Everton have always had a decent academy, but have maybe not had the staff to notice all the players and that is highlighted by the fact that Phil Jagielka, Leighton Baines and even Joey Barton and Richard Dunne were released or sold as youngsters. Okay, Joey Barton was probably not the right fit mentally for Everton, but he is still a talent despite all his wayward actions.
I believe that once Martinez has made his summer signings he will definitely look to progress the best youth players up to the first team and along with those mentioned above you can also add in the likes of Vellios, Gueye, Springthorpe, Junior, Taudel, Browning, Hope and McAleny that could all be knocking on the first team squads door over the next few seasons.
5 who could make the grade this year:
Matthew Kennedy – The young Scot has been impressing for the under 21’s this season as a winger and striker. He made the first team squad last season against Reading and will look to break into it more this year under Martinez.
Prediction – A few first team squad selections with the odd substitute appearance
John Stones – Stones can be deployed as a right back and performed superbly for Barnsley for much of last season, but the club see the tall defender more in the centre. Stones is currently with the England Under 20’s World Cup Squad and he is highly rated in the game. He has a decent touch for a big man and commands well for a youngster. Stones should make his debut this season.
Prediction – A few first team squad selections with the odd substitute appearance before being loaned back to Barnsley to get experience (Unless Coleman gets injured)
Ross Barkley – Barkley was play sporadically under David Moyes, much to the despair of the Goodison Park Faithful. This was probably the right thing to do though, as the player despite only being young was still coming back from a massive injury. Loan spells and Sheffield Wednesday and Leeds United showed that Barkley could cut it with big teams and he made more appearances towards the end of the season. I expect Barkley to be a regular this season.
Prediction – First team regular
John Lundstram – Lundstram is a player that isn’t often mentioned by the media when talking about Everton youngsters and he could be the one under the radar. Having finished the season on loan with Doncaster Rovers and helping them gain promotion to the Championship, Lundstrams growing reputation could help the young midfield talent progress to the first team. He is currently away with the England under 20’s, but Lundstram certainly knows how to pick a pass
Lundstram excelled for Doncaster Rovers on loan
Prediction – Loan spell back to Doncaster before forcing his way into the first team squad at the end of the season
Shane Duffy – Duffy has looked composed whenever he has competed for Everton. He has always just been out of reach of a first team place, competing with Heitinga, Distin and Jags for the centre back position. With Heitinga seemingly out the door and Distin knocking on being 35 years old, this season should see Duffy make more appearances. Although Antolin Alcaraz is likely to be brought in, this shouldn’t affect Duffy too much. Duffy’s aerial height could be a massive opportunity for Everton in the opposition box.
Prediction – Regular in the first team squad and will make over 8 first team appearances.
Certainly there seems to be a very good squad being formed at Everton and using the BBC Squad Selector you can create a decent enough team using players aged 23 and under:
Missing from the selection are players such as John Lundstram and Chris Long.
I’ll say it again – The Future is Bright – The Future is Blue
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