Kieran Dowell was once Everton’s next highly rated prospect.
The Toffees academy graduate was listed in The Guardian’s Next Generation 2014 column as the Everton’s most standout prospect and was tipped to become a regular at Goodison Park for years to come under former manager Roberto Martinez.
Martinez had every reason to rave about the then England youth international’s talents. The Spaniard handed Dowell his first team debut as a 17-year-old in a UEFA Europa League group stage clash with FC Krasnodar in December 2014, signing his first professional contract not long after.
The boyhood Evertonian continued to impress in the Under-23s under David Unsworth. He eventually made his Premier League debut in a three-minute cameo appearance in a win over Bournemouth in April 2016, before making his first start a month later in the final game of the season.
However, the 22-year-old has only made two senior Everton appearances since, with the bulk of his competitive action has coming in loan spells.
Dowell initially impressed at Nottingham Forest two seasons ago, becoming a virtual ever-present under Mark Warburton in a spell that included his first senior hat-trick in an October win over Hull City.
He fell out of favour once Warburton was sacked and replaced by Aitor Karanka – playing just 59 minutes in the final eight games of the season – but still reached double figures in goals at the City Ground.
Despite starting last term at Everton, Dowell joined Sheffield United on loan for the second half of the season, featuring 17 times as the Blades won promotion to the Premier League, certainly playing his part with a handful of excellent performances.
Since then, Dowell’s career has seemingly reached a standstill.
Dowell joined Derby County on loan in the summer as a replacement for Mason Mount, but the England Under-21 international has failed to build on a good start to his Rams career.
He has since been frozen out by manager Phillip Cocu, with just one of seven Derby appearances coming since August. Dowell has since been relegated to Under-23s action, starting in the Rams’ 7-1 thrashing of Leeds United on Wednesday night.
A lack of game time at Pride Park is harming his development, and it would seem likely that an early return to Goodison Park is in the offing in January.
At Everton, meanwhile, Dowell is under contract until 2021 but with manager Marco Silva still under pressure, it is unlikely that he would see much action ahead of Gylfi Sigurdsson and Alex Iwobi – two players the Blues have invested heavily in in recent years – and the emergence of teenager Anthony Gordon.
It simply hasn’t worked out at Derby for Dowell, who may regret spurning the interest of both Huddersfield and West Brom in favour of a move to last season’s beaten Championship play-off finalists.
He could perhaps move elsewhere in January, but it must be particularly griping for the midfielder to watch close friend Jonjoe Kenny flourish on loan in Germany at Schalke, while Tom Davies has regained his place in the first team at Everton under Silva and is enjoying a return to form.
He may just have an eye on a permanent switch from Goodison Park in the not too distant future in a bid to kick-start his stalling career.
Picture by Biloblue under Creative Commons Licence.