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What Next for Everton’s Title-Winning Under-23s Players?

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Who will be staying, loaned out and leaving for good?

Arsenal v Everton - Premier League 2 Photo by James Chance/Getty Images

The Clash’s ‘Should I Stay or Should I Go’ should be the tune ringing in the ears of every member of Everton’s title-winning under-23 squad from last season.

David Unsworth and his under-23s captured a second Premier League 2 title in three seasons last time out, but what should happen to last season’s squad now?

After the 2016/17 success, Unsworth faced a big rebuilding of his squad, with the likes of Dominic Calvert-Lewin, Tom Davies, Jonjoe Kenny and Mason Holgate all joining up with the senior squad, while countless others went out on loan.

And, after last season’s success, the same is likely to happen this summer too.

Below, we take a look through last season’s under 23 squad to see what they’re likely to do next season, as well as taking a look at some players returning from their loan spells and some stars that are stepping up from the under 18s.

Joāo Virginia – Goalkeeper – 19

Virginia was something of a coup for Everton’s under-23s after switching from Arsenal last summer. The young shot-stopper impressed last season too, but there’s a long way to go before he’s ready for first-team football at Goodison Park. A loan move to a Championship or League One side where he’ll play every week will be the challenge he needs.

Contract until 30.6.2021

Verdict: Go on loan

Mateusz Hewelt – Goalkeeper – 22

Has steadily seen his game time reduce for the under-23s in recent seasons and, at 22, he really needs to leave the club to see if a career in professional football still awaits him.

Contract until 30.6.2019

Verdict: Release

Lewis Gibson – Centre-Back – 18

Left Newcastle to join the Blues in July 2017 in a big-money deal that could be worth up to £7 million. He was even handed the captain’s armband at just 17 towards the end of his debut season and is definitely one of the brightest prospects on the clubs books.
The Blues have a number of promising young centre-backs on the books currently, so the next step for Gibson may well be a loan move to a League One side in order to get more experience. He’s still young, though, so another season with the under-23s wouldn’t be too damaging either.

Contract until 30.6.2020

Verdict: Go on loan or stay with under-23s

Morgan Feeney – Centre-Back – 20

The popular Gwladys Street season ticket holder has been knocking on the door of the first team fold for a number of seasons now and even made a couple of Europa League appearances in 2017/18.

Having shone for the under-23s and a lot of bodies ahead of him in the first-team setup, a loan to a Championship side would definitely be his best option.

Contract until 30.6.2020

Verdict: Go on loan

Con Ouzounidis – Centre-Back – 19

The 19-year-old’s contract is set to expire this summer, but after enjoying a strong breakthrough season with the under-23s, he’s expected to sign a new deal at Goodison Park

The Australian youth international should look to become a key player in the new-look under-23s this season.

Contract until 30.6.2019

Verdict: Stay with under-23s

Brendan Galloway – Left-Back – 23

After breaking into the first-team fold what seems like an eternity ago, Brendan Galloway endured nightmare loan spells at West Brom and Sunderland to slip into the obscurity. After returning to the under-23s last season, Galloway simply has to leave Goodison Park if he has any hopes of kickstarting his career again.
He’s still got another year on his contract though and is on a reported £22,500 per week – so he’s unlikely to find a new home that will be willing to stump up that kind of cash. Expect him to leave on loan for the final year of his deal and for Everton to contribute to a chunk of his wages.

Contract until 30.6.2020

Verdict: Go on loan or sell (if possible)

Alex Denny – Defensive-Midfield – 19

Denny made a last-minute appearance from the bench for Everton’s dead-rubber win over Apollon in 2017, but hasn’t featured for the first team since. He’s out of contract this summer and may get another extension. Will probably stay in the under-23s squad, though, if so.

Contract until 30.6.2019

Verdict: Stay with under-23s

Nathan Markelo – Defensive Midfield – 20

Was one of the under-23s star performers last season, having moved to the Blues from second-tier Dutch side Volendam on a three-year deal in 2017. The holding midfielder, who can also play in defence, is highly-rated at Finch Farm and should now be looking at getting a loan move to a Championship or League One side in order to continue his development

Contract until 30.6.2020

Verdict: Go on loan

Harry Charsley – Centre-Midfield – 22

Another player to have made his first-team debut against Apollon in 2017, Charsley has impressed regularly for the under-23s, but his development was hampered following a disappointing loan move to Bolton in 2018 that saw him make just one appearance. At 22 and with his contract expiring in the summer, it may be time for him to make his own way in the world of Football League.

Contract until 30.6.2019

Verdict: Release

Dennis Adeniran – Centre-Midfield – 20

Joined the Blues on deadline day in 2017 from Fulham in a deal that could eventually be worth up to £4 million. The midfielder made a slow start with the under-23s, though, despite having made five senior appearances for Fulham.
The energetic midfielder caught the eye for the under-23s in 2018/19 with some fine displays and was one of the team’s key players. It’s time to test him at a higher level, though, so a move to a Championship or League One side is a must.

Contract until 30.6.2021

Verdict: Go on loan

Manasse Mampala – Attacking-Midfield – 18

Is reportedly in talks over a new Everton contract after breaking into the under-23s set up last season and has been compared to Congalese compatriot, Yannick Bolasie. Should be central to Unsworth’s rebuilding plans for the under-23s.

Contract until 30.6.2019

Verdict: Stay with under-23s

Anthony Gordon – Attacking-Midfield – 18

One of the most talked about prospects in the Everton academy, Gordon moved up to the under-23s last season and signed a new long-term contract while doing so. A loan move is a possibility, but if not, expect him to shine for the under 23s next season and start knocking on the door of the first-team.

Contract until 30.6.2023

Verdict: Become the main man for the under-23s

Nathan Broadhead – Left-Winger – 21

Caught my eye with a scintillating cameo appearance in Everton’s mid-season friendly against Gor Mahia last season with a goal and an assist in less than 10 minutes on the field. He also shone for the under-23s on the left-wing with his direct style of play that got him the Dixie for Under-23s Player of the Year. At 21, he really needs to get out and play some senior football if he wants to force his way into the first team picture at Goodison Park

Contract until 30.6.2020

Verdict: Go on loan

Josh Bowler – Right-Winger – 20

Another key player for the under-23s last season, having joined the club on a three-year-deal from QPR in 2017. Like Broadhead, he’s got a lot of potential, but now needs to show it at a senior level with a strong loan spell, ideally in the Championship.

Contract until 30.6.2020

Verdict: Go on loan

Fraser Hornby – Striker – 19

Duncan Ferguson comparisons have been in no short supply for the Scotland under-21 international. He’s another player who made his debut against Apollon in 2017, but he needs to show if he has what it takes to lead the line at a senior level. The big Scot could be a great addition for many League One sides with his physical prowess.

Contract until 30.6.2021

Verdict: Go on loan

Bassala Sambou – Striker – 21

Was an important player for the under-23s last season and even trained with the first-team, but at 21 he really needs to start kicking on if he wants to reach the Premier League. His contract is up in the summer, but the Blues may give him an extension. Whether it’s as an Everton player or not, though, Sambou needs to get out and test himself in the Championship or League One next season.

Contract until 30.6.2019

Verdict: Go on loan or release

Returning Loanees:

Joe Hilton – Goalkeeper – 19

Went on loan to ninth-tier Marine in January and impressed despite his side being relegated for the first time in their history. He’s out of contract this summer but could well get an extension and either come back into the under-23s fold or go out on a loan to a team further up the pyramid.

Contract until 30.6.2019

Verdict: Play for under-23s or go on loan

Callum Connolly – Defence/Midfield – 21

Made his first-team debut for Everton alongside Tom Davies in 2016 against Southampton in 2016, but hasn’t had much of a look-in since. Connolly is extremely versatile and can play anywhere in defence or midfield, and he’s had some generally positive spells in the Championship with Wigan, Ipswich and Bolton.
His versatility may help him move into the first-team setup at Goodison Park, although another loan spell to a Championship club probably awaits.

Contract until 30.6.2021

Verdict: Go on loan

Antonee Robinson – Left-Back - 21

Jedi has enjoyed successful season-long loans at Bolton and Wigan over the past two seasons and even earned six caps for the United States while doing so. The big question regarding whether Robinson will step into the first-team picture is whether Leighton Baines will renew his contract.
If Baines stays, Robinson should gun for a loan to a top Championship team in order to continue his development. If Baines goes, then Robinson will likely cover Lucas Digne at left-back and wait for his chance to impress.

Contract until 30.6.2021

Verdict: Go on loan or first-team back-up

Joe Williams – Centre-Midfield - 22

Was reported to have impressed Marco Silva last pre-season before picking up a thigh injury, meaning he eventually left the club on another season-long loan, in which he again established himself at a struggling Championship club.
The Blues turned down a £1 million bid for him from Bristol City in January, so it seems like they may have real plans for him. It seems unlikely that he’ll establish himself in the first team just yet though, so may another loan to a top Championship team could be the last step in his development away from the club.
He’s got one more year left on his contract, so that will give the Blues time to see if he has what it takes.He certainly shouldn’t be playing with the under-23s next season.

Contract until 30.6.2020

Verdict: Go on loan or first-team back-up

Antony Evans – Attacking Midfield – 20

Joined League One Blackpool on loan in January, but struggled to hold down a first-team slot at Bloomfield Road. Has impressed thoroughly whenever he’s played with the under-23s and has regularly captained the side, but a more impressive loan spell (probably in League One again) is probably the best move for Evans.

Contract until 30.6.2020

Verdict: Go on loan

From the Under-18s

Kyle John – Right-Back - 18

Signed his first professional contract with the Blues in March and featured for the first-team in last season’s friendly against Gor Mahia. There’s high hopes for John, but at just 18, a full campaign with the under-23s is wise.

Contract until 30.6.2021

Verdict: Play for under-23s

Ellis Simms – Striker - 18

Starred for the under-18s last season and got Blue tongues wagging by bagging 46 goals. Was even linked with Bayern Munich recently and should look to bring the same kind of devastation in front of goal to the under-23s this season. One of the club’s very brightest hopes and signed his first professional deal in May, although the length of the contract wasn’t disclosed.

Contract until: unknown

Verdict: Star for the under-23s

Joe Anderson – Left-Back - 18

The Major of Liverpool’s namesake is set to step-up to the under-23s after impressing for the under 18s. Recently signed his first professional contract.

Unknown contract

Verdict: Step-up to the under-23s

Ryan Astley – Centre-Back – 17

Signed a three-year professional contract with the Blues after stepping up to under-23 level last season. Has big shoes to fill if Morgan Feeney and Lewis Gibson go out on loan.

Contract until 30.6.2021

Verdict: Stay with under-23s

Einar Iverson – Left-Winger – 17

The Norwegian winger joined the Blues from Stord in 2017 and is expected to become a regular feature for the under-23s this season after stepping up from the under 18s.

Unknown contract

Verdict: Stay with under-23s