To say Everton’s form as of late has been poor would be an understatement.
The Toffees entered the world cup winter break sitting precariously above the drop zone, with fears of another relegation battle looming. Despite starting the season with one of the best defensive records in the Premier League, the goal-scoring output is non-existent and fans are becoming impatient. The good news for Everton though is that Academy players are thriving.
Everton Under-21s are flying this season, scoring goals for fun whilst reaching the knockout stages of the EFL Trophy where they will face Mansfield Town next Wednesday. Topping a group made up of EFL sides Morecambe, Hartlepool and Harrogate, fans have started to take notice of the talent scattered throughout the side.
A combination of injuries and World Cup duties have left Everton short on top flight players so opportunity knocks for the likes of Tom Cannon, Stanley Mills and Isaac Price to with the first team.
Frank Lampard showed his faith in the youngsters by playing them in the two bitterly disappointing defeats away at Bournemouth, first in the Carabeo Cup, then in the Premier League.
Price in particular stood out, with Lampard labelling him as the best player on the pitch in the recent penalty shoot-out victory over Celtic in the Sydney Cup. The 19-year old backed up his impressive display with yet another completion of 90 minutes, this time in Wednesday’s 5-1 thrashing of Western Sydney Wanderers. Price was lauded once again for his impact, rubber-stamping his chances of further involvement after the break.
Although Gueye, Onana and Garner were unavailable for the trip to Australia, the game-time tops off what has been a steady season of development under Paul Tait in the U-21 academy set up. A progressive passer with bags of energy and positional awareness, the way he has seamlessly fitted into the team will not come as a surprise to regular watchers of the young blues.
His ability to control games shows maturity, and most importantly his simple approach is bound to encourage Lampard to trust him more regularly. Premier League experience will be next on the agenda for Price.
Striker Tom Cannon and forward-thinking midfielder Stanley Mills both took their chances in Australia, both involved in the 5th goal on Wednesday. Mills’ drive and low-strike was spilt by the keeper, and the typically instinctive Cannon was there to turn in from close range.
With Calvert-Lewin’s ongoing injury issues, Cannon has shown that he is a realistic option to lead the line as Everton look to fix their goal-scoring woes.
Mills, son of former Leeds player Danny, provides creative spark which often seems to be missing in the first team games. Despite the need for points, fans are desperate for the talented trio to feature more. Progression in the ranks could save the club a fortune.
The trip to Australia provided fellow academy stars Reece Welch, Joe Anderson and Seb Quirk with some first team experience. Although their involvement was minimal, it still gives the manager the scope to find out how they adapt to senior life on and off the pitch.
— Everton Academy (@EvertonAcademy) November 16, 2022
Paul Tait’s academy side face against Mansfield, another opportunity for more players to experience the Goodison Park feeling.
Alongside Price, Mills and Cannon who feature more regularly, there is now a maturity to the side which will stand them in good stead against League 2 opposition. A win would not only boost their confidence, but it would move them ever closer to a trip to Wembley in the EFL Trophy.
Isaac Price’s performances in Australia and the attention that followed leaves fans expecting more injection of youth. Everton have an impressive record of producing youngsters that go on to the very top achieve big things in the game, and the current crop is certainly one to be excited about.