It’s been a difficult season for Everton.
The optimism surrounding Roberto Martinez’s tenure from 2013/14 has long since worn off and it remains to be seen if the Spanish manager will remain at Goodison Park for next season. Throw in a FA Cup semi final defeat to Manchester United, persistent rumours of squad disharmony and a dismal home record in the league this year, and Toffees fans have had little to enjoy.
However, it’s not all doom and gloom. A look at some of the youth prospects coming through the Everton academy could prove to banish the dark clouds of over the blue side of Stanley Park.
Everton have good young players with Romelu Lukaku, John Stones, Seamus Coleman and Ross Barkley being all highly talented, and with the likes of Stones, Coleman and Barkley getting their big breaks with the club, there’s clearly a lot of work put into youth development.
With this in mind, FootballFanCast runs the rule over FIVE of Everton’s brightest prospects that should be given their chance next year.
Brendan Galloway has already featured a fair amount this season for Everton, thanks to injuries to Leighton Baines and Seamus Coleman in particular.
The Zimbabwe-born defender made most of his appearances in the first half of the season playing part in beating Chelsea 3-1 and Sunderland 6-2 at Goodison Park. Mainly filling in at left back Galloway doesn’t offer the goalscoring threat of Baines, but his favoured position is at centre back and with question marks over John Stones’ future, Phil Jagielka’s injury record and Ramiro Funes Mori really being good enough, next season the England U-19 international might just get his chance.
Like Galloway, Tyias Browning profited from injuries to Everton’s defence at the start of the campaign, often playing at right back, though he too favours the centre back role.
Browning has all the attributes to be an Everton favourite. He’s played for England at U-17, U-19 and U-20 level and can clearly handle big games despite being 21, he made his Premier League debut at home to Liverpool and looked assured, helping his side salvage a 1-1 draw from being 1-0 down.
He’s been at the club since he was 10-years-old and was born in Liverpool, so he knows more than most what it takes to be an Everton player and will have the supporters’ backing behind him when he becomes a regular.
Ryan Ledson is another Liverpudlian and has been at the Blues’ academy since the age of five.
The midfielder made his competitive debut in 2014 in a Europa League tie with Krasnodar and at just 18 years of age, looks to have a big future ahead of him. This season he has been on loan at Cambridge United in League Two, making 26 appearances as they just missed out on the play-offs.
He still has plenty to learn, but the prospect of another homegrown midfielder starting week in week out for Everton, just as Barkley does, is an exciting one and could happen soon.
Kieran Dowell is another local lad, born in Ormskirk, Lancashire, who plays out on the wing.
Dowell also made his competitive debut against Krasnodar and has played for England at U-16, U-17 and U-18 level. Predominantly left footed, but preferring to play on the right and cut inside, Dowell fits the bill of the modern inverted winger.
He’s impressed for Everton’s U-21 side this year, has an eye for a pass and although he hasn’t played as much first-team football as the others in this list, he should be given a chance to show what he can do at the highest level soon.
Another of Everton’s promising young defenders, Matthew Pennington, has been at the club since the age of 11.
Now 21, he has plenty of experience to call upon, playing on loan for both Tranmere Rovers and Coventry City in recent seasons, including winning the Young Player of the Year award at the Sky Blues.
Pennington made his debut for Everton against Bournemouth last weekend in the 2-1 victory, and being equally adept at centre back and right back, he could be set for more first-team action next season.