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    Irvine: Our aim is to develop local lads into the Everton 1st team

    Alan Irvine insists Everton’s Academy are doing all they can to ensure more young players are ready to make the climb into Everton’s senior setup.

    And the Club’s Academy director believes his connection with manager Roberto Martinez and their shared footballing vision will help make that happen.

    Everton’s youth programme has garnered lots of positive publicity in recent weeks after homegrown teenager Ross Barkley catapulted himself into the international limelight following a series of impressive showings in a Blue shirt.

    The technically-gifted midfielder has slotted perfectly into Martinez’s plans, playing all but two minutes in Everton’s three Premier League fixtures since the Spaniard’s arrival.

    Irvine yesterday described Barkley’s rise to prominence as a ‘selling point’ for the Academy and stressed the way in which the Club’s fledglings are educated can accelerate their progress.

    “Personally I was delighted when he [Roberto] got the job because first of all I knew him and I had a good relationship with him from years gone by,” Irvine told evertontv. “We have always got on well whenever we have seen each other, and that was a great start.

    “I think it is very important the academy has close links with the first-team and clearly if the manager and academy director have a relationship then that makes everybody’s job that bit easier.

    “When Roberto got the job it was probably as good of an appointment from the academy’s point of view as it could have been following David [Moyes].

    He continued: “We [the Academy] have a philosophy where we are trying to develop intelligent, technically gifted, adaptable players who want to control and dominate possession of the ball.

    “We actually play in a way that Roberto will want us to; we do play out from the back and through midfield, and we then look to be creative and imaginative in the final third.

    “We are not perfect at it but you never will be when you are dealing with young lads who have got lots of things to learn.

    “Our philosophy is one of controlled possession but still with an attacking mentality.”

    Leon Osman, Tony Hibbert and Victor Anichebe are three graduates from the Everton Academy who have enjoyed long careers at Goodison Park in recent times.

    Wayne Rooney, James Vaughan, Jose Baxter, Francis Jeffers and Michael Ball are a selection of others from the local area who have also emerged through the Everton youth system and had a prolonged stint in the game elsewhere.

    Irvine has reassured Evertonians that one of the Academy’s foremost priorities will be to continue unearthing and developing talent from the region.

    “Most of our success is with local lads,” he continued. “We have actually got a terrific record in terms of lads who start here at the academy very young and make it all the way through.

    “You just need to look at the names who have made that particular journey and they actually make us more eager to recruit from our own area.

    “We don’t have a huge network of people looking at players from all over the world. We have the odd player from other parts of the world and other parts of the country but we are very focused on the North West and actually developing our own players than trying to bring in players by paying fees to recruit them from other clubs.”

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