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Gordon: “I am always trying to get better”

Youngster confident he has what it takes to make the senior squad

Everton Training Session
Moise Kean (CL) and Anthony Gordon challenge for the ball as Yerry Mina looks on
Photo by Tony McArdle/Everton FC via Getty Images

Marco Silva is yet to give a chance to a player from Everton’s much-vaunted youth teams in his senior squad in his time at the Blues, but Anthony Gordon has come closer than any other to becoming the first.

The 18-year-old forward joined the Blues when he was 11 and since that time has spent his years rising through the ranks as a talented distributor of the ball with an eye for goal. He has featured 31 times for the Under-18 side, scoring 16 times with 5 assists, before moving up to David Unsworth’s Under-23 side where he’s continued hitting the net with regularity, picking up 7 goals and 4 assists in 25 games.

At the international level, he has made seven England Under-19 appearances in the last three months, scoring twice and assisting in three other goals. He featured ten times for the Three Lions U-18 side during the 2018-19 season, playing anywhere from attacking midfielder to out on either wing.

Take a look at the range of goals he’s been scoring as well for the Everton youth sides. Showing off his pace to go behind the backline, coolly collecting a long pass and score a brace?

The ‘fox-in-the-box’ making the late, unmarked run into the penalty area and then slotting home?

How about the dribbling to win a penalty, and then calmly dispatching a late freekick precisely into the bottom corner to win the game?

Oh did we miss the dribbling past five players in the left channel and then curling a finish into the far corner from outside the box?

Gordon became the sixth youngest player to appear for the Toffees’ first team when he came on as a late substitute in the 3-0 Europa League group stage win over Cyprus’ Apollon Limassol at the age of 16 years and 286 days in December 2017.

Since that time he has yet to appear again for the senior side, but a series of sparkling performances for Unsworth’s team in the Premier League 2 as well as at the international level resulted in Gordon being called up for the trip to Southampton a fortnight ago.

While the teenager failed to make his Premier League debut in that game, the feeling is that he’s getting closer and closer to that milestone for the Blues. However, Gordon is not taking anything for granted and is continuing to work as he doesn’t believe he’s quite ‘made it’ yet.

“I still don’t think that. I just try to enjoy myself and get better every day.

”You never sit down and think, ‘I have a chance’. That is for other people to say. I am just trying to keep getting better and progressing.

“I haven’t played one game competitively for the first team [bar those two minutes in Cyprus]. To be around it shows I am progressing well. But I am not there yet. I am not starting for the first team and I still have so much to do.”

Gordon played a key role for the Under-23s last season as they went on to clinch the domestic double and he attributed much of that success to Unsworth.

“I saw how hard it was with David Unsworth in {the preseason camp at] La Manga and thought, ‘I am not going back unprepared [this season]’.

“I went on one holiday, then came back and trained every day. That set me up perfectly for the season.

“I have been mentally preparing for this [involvement with the first team] since last pre-season. I am starting to show I can cope with that level. I have the ability and believe in myself. If I got the chance I would do what I always have: trust in my ability and work hard.”

The player continues to be his own biggest critic, and he says it drives him to continue to improve as he seeks to come into Silva’s reckoning.

“I am harsh on myself and unless I am unbelievable in training every day, I expect to not be picked.

“My family criticise me just as much as I do and that helps me. If you just have people telling you, ‘You played well’, you will never learn.

“I remember things from the Under-23 games, what I have done wrong, how would those things would effect a first-team game?

“I am always trying to get better.”

The time appears right for a senior appearance with Bernard out injured with Alex Iwobi and Richarlison taking on the left winger role in Silva’s formation. But with just Theo Walcott available for the right wing, Iwobi showing he is much more valuable at the #10 position, and 9 games coming up in the 39 days left in the calendar year, we can expect to see Gordon’s #42 on the pitch very soon.