Academy graduate Matthew Pennington has signed a two-year professional contract with Everton.
The Warrington-born defender, 18, has agreed a deal which will keep him at Goodison Park until the summer of 2015.
Pennington first joined the Blues at the age of 11 and has since progressed through the Club’s youth setup.
Last season he was a regular for the Under-18s side which reached the quarter-final of the FA Youth Cup and the semi-finals of the Premier Academy League.
In a breakthrough year, Pennington also made nine appearances for Alan Stubbs’ Under-21s team.
Speaking to evertontv, the starlet says he is now determined to continue his development during 2013/14.
“I’m very proud to have got this contract,” Pennington said. “Starting off at 11 years old, I’ve come all this way to 18 now and I’m only just at the start of my career. It’s great that I can have a chance to kick on and I think that’s the idea of this contract.
“Now I have got to prove myself as a player in the real world. Hopefully I can make a career in the game and push on.
“I’m hoping to establish myself as an Under-21s regular and hopefully I can put in some good performances and impress the coaches. That’s my aim for this season.”
A versatile defender, Pennington is equally adaptable playing in central defence and at right-back.
He was rewarded for the high standard of his performances last season by receiving a call-up to England Under-19s squad against Turkey in March where he appeared as a second-half substitute in the 1-0 victory at Telford.
Now Pennington is hoping that his displays for Everton will lead to more international opportunities.
He said: “It’s always nice to be recognised as an international player. I felt so proud after that appearance.
“Hopefully I can get another chance but if not I have had a great experience and it’s something I can always put on my CV. But I would like to be there again, of course.”
As well as possessing natural football ability, Pennington is also academically gifted.
The level-headed youngster boasts 10 A* GCSEs to his name – although a career in football has always been his professional objective.
“Football was always the priority for me,” insisted Pennington. “I always did my football and then did my studies afterwards.
“It was obviously good that I carried on with my studies and I have got them in my pocket if I need them later in life.
“Hopefully I won’t need them at all and I can make a career in the game.”