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Latics loan last chance for once-promising Everton youngster

The next few months will be pivotal to Kieran Dowell’s career

Friendly match”FC Twente v Everton FC”
Wayne Rooney & Kieran Dowell at Everton

Funny how one of Everton’s greatest young players is extinguishing the chances of another Academy graduate to make a mark.

Word from media sources has it that Kieran Dowell’s loan at Derby County is close to being terminated with the Rams having added Wayne Rooney during this transfer window, and that the player will return to Everton but then shipped out on loan to Wigan Athletic, where Toffees legend Joe Royle is on the Board.

(NOTE: Now confirmed by Everton)

Dowell has struggled mightily since a couple of seasons ago when he was on the fringes of the senior squad. Everton then had Gylfi Sigurdsson, Davy Klaassen, Rooney and added Nikola Vlasic at Dowell’s favoured #10 position, with the youngster being loaned out to Nottingham Forest to continue his development.

20 years old at the time, he made an immediate impression at Forest, racking up 10 goals and 5 assists, and quickly becoming a key part of the squad. However once Mark Warburton was sacked and Aitor Karanka took over, Dowell fell out of favour and was soon out of the starting lineup too.

At the end of the 2017-18 season he rejoined Everton, and got two starts in League Cup play and was on the bench for a couple of Premier League games too, but was unable to convince Marcel Brands and Marco Silva, and was sent out on loan again in January, this time to Sheffield United who were making their run to second place in the Championship and eventually gained promotion. At the Blades, Dowell remained on the fringes with two goals and an assist in 17 games, mostly playing backup to 34-year-old journeyman Mark Duffy.

Stoke City v Sheffield United - Sky Bet Championship
Dowell in happier times
Photo by Molly Darlington - AMA/Getty Images

After spending another preseason with the Blues, he was sent to Derby County on a season-long loan, though with Rooney’s impending arrival his future there was always going to be in doubt unless he blew the manager away. Dowell did not.

The 22-year-old made six consecutive starts as the attacking midfielder in a 4-2-3-1, but Derby struggled under Phillip Cocu as did Dowell. By October he’d been dropped from the XI and has been a benchwarmer since then, making only two appearances in December and dropped completely for yesterday’s win over Barnsley.

Wigan are sitting in the relegation zone in the Championship where they’ve been wallowing for most of the season. Dowell could be a wildcard for embattled manager Paul Cook, or conversely, could seal doom for the side that has one win since late October.

His competition for the #10 spot in the 4-2-3-1 Cook employs is ironically another Everton youngster who faded from the limelight in the obscurity of the Championship - Joe Williams. While Williams started off as a defensive midfielder, he’s been used further up the pitch at the Latics, not that it’s done much for him though, with one assist in 19 appearances telling you all you need to know.

Dowell has one more season after this on his current Everton contract, but should he not make a difference at Wigan for the remainder of this season, he runs the risk of being labeled a lower league player for the rest of his career despite being only 22, especially with question marks around his motivation and desire.