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Everton offer former player chance at redemption

Former Academy graduate brought back into the fold

Preston North End v Everton
Jose Baxter in happier days in 2010
Photo by David Rogers/Getty Images

The youngest player to have represented Everton in the Premier League is being given another chance to play for the Blues again. Jose Baxter, who made his senior debut at 16 years and 191 days, had left the club and fallen upon hard times leading to a suspension for drug use.

Everton have offered Baxter a one-year contract to train with the Under-23 side as soon as his drug ban expires in June this year. Baxter, who was playing for Sheffield United in League One at the time, tested positive for cocaine in February 2016 and was banned by the FA in August last year.

Baxter will turn 25 next month, and played a total of fifteen times for the Everton team between 2008 and 2012, having joined the Academy as a six-year-old. He also has four goals in eleven England youth international appearances.

He told the Times -

“I'm speechless.

“Not many people get a second chance and here's me with a third chance.”

The decision to give the Bootle-born player another shot was made by club chairman Bill Kenwright and Under-23 side manager David Unsworth.

“It can be anything he wants it to be. As soon as he comes through the gates of Finch Farm in July, he will be treated like an Under 23 player and we work very hard. He will be given the same opportunities as everyone else. If that means he moves on to a Championship club or League One club later on, that will be down to Jose.

“'We want to help because that is the sort of club we are. He is one of our own, but I have said to Jose, in no uncertain terms, that this is your last chance.”

The attacking midfielder went to Tranmere Rovers on loan in September 2011, with the loan extended several times until January 2012. At the end of that season he was released by the Toffees.

He then joined League One side Oldham Athletic for the 2012-13 season, where he had 17 goals and 8 assists in 50 appearances. With renewed interest in the player, he was signed by his former Everton youth manager David Weir who was managing Sheffield United at the time.

Baxter was suspended by Sheffield in May 2015 after failing a drugs test. In July, he was then suspended by the FA for five months following a positive test for ecstasy. The player was then suspended again in February 2016 and subsequently released in May following the latest drug use charge.