Fraser Hornby making the switch to striker has taken him on an upward career trajectory, and was rewarded by Everton offering him his first professional contract.
The 18-year-old yesterday signed a deal that keeps him with the Blues until 2021, less than a year after his coaches at the Under-18 Toffees side urged him to move further upfield from midfield.
His 2016-17 season ended in a bad way with a long-term injury that he was still recovering from early this season, but the switch to forward with the U-18s paid off immediately as he racked up three goals and two assists in three games and was bumped up to the U-23 side.
“Even when I was playing in midfield I’d like to get forward and get in the box, so when [Under-18 coach] Paul Tait and Kevin Sheedy moved me to striker at Under-18s, I could just see myself playing there for many years.
“I’m happy playing as a striker now and I’m looking forward to improving. I’ve only played there for a season so there’s a lot more work to do.
“Everton is a very family-orientated club, which is what I like about the place. You feel very comfortable and feel like you can express yourself. It’s a great place to be.”
Hornby went on to pick up another three goals and two assists in thirteen Premier League 2 games which earned him a callup to the Scotland youth side for the Toulon Tournament a month or so ago.
His solitary Everton senior side appearance was for the dead rubber Europa League game in Cyprus against Apollon Limassol, where he started and played 82 minutes in a 3-0 romp.
Speaking to evertontv, the youngster said -
“Every young lad’s dream is to become a professional footballer and it’s my first professional deal so I’m just delighted and I can’t wait to get started now. It’s been a memorable 12 months, considering at the start of last season I was coming back from a long-term injury.
“My main focus was just getting back playing again, scoring goals, and I had a few chances with the Under-23s. It was crazy season but full of memories and hopefully this year will bring a few more.
“Making my first-team debut was just an amazing experience. The whole occasion, travelling with the team, it being an away game, seeing all the fans - hopefully I can get more experiences like that in the future.”
Hornby has been glad to have Duncan Ferguson as a fellow Scot and striker role model to follow, and we can expect him to make an even bigger impact next season.