Everton fans will be concerned as first team injuries begin to mount and may be asking which academy youngsters can make the huge step up.

In the 1-1 draw at Manchester United, four of Everton’s nine substitutes were academy players.

And talented youngster Lewis Dobbin was given a nod of faith by Rafa Benitez in the final minutes at Old Trafford.

Blues supporters would love nothing more than an academy player to come through the youth system and set the Premier League alight like Wayne Rooney did almost 20 years ago.

Has the time come again for a new academy prospect to announce himself to the Goodison faithful? And if so, who?

Lewis Dobbin

The forward (pictured, above), who joined Everton’s youth setup when he was 11, has now been given two first team opportunities, coming on in the Blues’ 2-0 win over Norwich, before being given the ultimate show of faith at Old Trafford, with the game finely poised at 1-1.

This was the Stoke-born striker’s second Old Trafford cameo – after his bit part contribution in the Toffees’ 4-0 pre-season defeat.

Despite only appearing for a combined six Premier League minutes, it is conspicuous to see that Benitez is seeing enough from Dobbin in training, and his youth team performances, to warrant first team chances.

The 18-year-old won the Under-18s player of the season award in 2020, before making his Under-23s debut the same year, and signing his first professional contract around the same time.

It is clear that Benitez is impressed by Dobbin’s attributes and we could be seeing even more of the teenager over the coming months.

Charlie Whitaker

Academy - Charlie Whitaker b
Charlie Whitaker

Another Under 18s player of the season who has caught the eye of the Champions League winning coach.

Charlie Whitaker was also named on the bench for Everton’s clash against Manchester United, and has massively impressed everyone around Finch Farm with his performances at both Under-18s and Under-23s level.

His stellar season in 2020/21, which subsequently won him player of the season, also earned him promotion to David Unsworth’s Under-23s, with the midfielder now a regular and a crucial member of the squad.

Whitaker, who joined Everton at the age of 12, brings dynamism and flexibility to a midfield, and the 18-year-old, who already has three Premier League 2 goals this season, may be hard for Benitez to ignore.

Mathew Mallon

As Everton’s summer transfer window came under scrutiny for failure to bring in a right-back, an area which the club are noticeably short of, it may just be that it provides an opportunity for a youth team player to force his way into first team contention.

Local teenager Mathew Mallon has shined for Paul Tait’s Under-18s side so far this season, providing defensive stability and the eagerness and quality to join in attack.

Mathew Mallon b
Mathew Mallon

The 17-year-old was outstanding as Everton came from behind to beat Burnley Under-18s on the weekend, showcasing his defensive attributes and jinking past a few players to have a huge influence on the young Blues’ winning goal.

Mallon also scored the opening goal in the 2-1 win against Wolves the weekend before, and despite Marcel Brands’ known efforts to bring in a right-back over recent years, it may just be that he has a future one right under his nose.

Emilio Lawrence

Arguably Everton Under-18s best player so far this season, the teenager, who represents Scotland at youth level, has been instrumental in Tait’s sides recent good run of form.

Lawrence’s qualities are his ability to manipulate the ball past defenders with ease, and his eye for a defence-splitting pass.

Although just 16 years old, the teenager seems to be the outstanding forward on the pitch with almost every game he plays and can be used flexibly anywhere across the frontline.

His bravery to receive the ball in tight situations and open up the game with his evident quality in the final third could prove to be an asset at higher age groups this season.

Emilio Lawrence B
Emilio Lawrence