Everton's future looks very bright indeed

Chris Brunskill

Everton's Under-18 side were crowned Premier League champions over the weekend and boss Kevin Sheedy is excited about their potential.

Everton's youngsters finished second in the northern section of the Under-18 Premier League behind Manchester City. Meanwhile, Tottenham finished top of the southern section with West Ham second, sending all four clubs into the end-of-season play-offs.

Everton beat Tottenham 1-0 at Goodison Park earlier this month to reach the final and were joined by City after they best West Ham 2-1 in their last four encounter.

The final took place at Goodison Park on Saturday with Harry Charsley's second half strike ensuring Everton would end up as champions.

Manager Kevin Sheedy was understandably delighted with the efforts of his young players but was also keen to stress the ultimate aim of the club's youth policy - to produce players for the first-team.

With Financial Fair Play regulations seeking to limit transfer spending - particularly on foreign players - the importance of producing talented young players is more important than ever.

We have seen this season what benefits a thriving youth set-up can bring, with Ross Barkley establishing himself as a first-team regular as well as earning himself a place in England's World Cup squad.

Speaking after Saturday's triumph, Sheedy said:

"That's the aim, to produce players who can play for Everton at senior level.

"There is bags of potential within this side, both individually and collectively. We think we have some top players coming through here, and it is our jobs as coaches to nurture and develop those talents.

"I was so proud of the players on Saturday. To play Tottenham and Manchester City, two very good sides, in quick succession, and to stand up to the test both times, says so much about the quality and the attitude of this team.

"We had five schoolboys on the field on Saturday, whilst most of the City side were second-year scholars, so that says plenty about the strength in depth that we have at youth level here.

"I said to the players afterwards that this is the standard we have set now – a very high one. We have to make sure that we match that next season, because that is what Everton is all about. We don't rest on our laurels, we keep striving to be better and better.

"This experience will stand these players in good stead. To play in such meaningful matches, and at Goodison Park as well, is fantastic for young players. But the main thing is to instil that winning mentality. We don't want to be good losers here, we want to be winners, and that is as important as any of the skills or physical attributes."

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