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Who Will Be Representing Everton Under-23s in 2020-21?

Who will be playing for David Unsworth’s side next season, who might leave and who will head out on loan?

Everton v PSV - Premier League International Cup
Tyler Onyango in action
Photo by Emma Simpson - Everton FC/Everton FC via Getty Images

After their season was cut short early in 2019/20, David Unsworth is currently busy readying his under-23s side for next season’s Premier League 2 campaign.

But will it be a new-look side?

Below I take a look at which players have left, who might leave, and who might star for the under-23s in 2020/21.

Who’s Been Released:

· Matty Foulds

· Morgan Feeney

· Kieran Phillips (joined Huddersfield Town)

· Alex Denny

· Korede Adedoyin

· Manasse Mampala

Who’s Been Sold:

· Fraser Hornby – Stade Reims (£1.8m)

Who’s Already Been Loaned Out?

Nathan Markelo – CM/RB - 21

The versatile Dutchman – who primarily plays in central midfield - joined Everton from Dutch second division side, FC Volendam, in June 2017.

Despite having been frequently tipped to have a first team future, Markelo – now 21 – has yet to play any senior football, but has played frequently for the under-23s for the past three years.

Interestingly, those in charge at Everton must still fancy that he may yet have a chance of making the step up, as he was given a new two-year contract before joining FC Twente on loan in his homeland for the entirety of the 2020/21 season.

As I recently discussed, this seems to be a case of Everton stifling a player in the under-23s rather than getting them senior first-team football elsewhere. Indeed, he’s going to have to absolutely shine at Twente if he wants to play for Everton in the following season.

Contract until 30.6.2022

Everton FC v Derby County - Premier League 2
Nathangelo Markelo on the ball
Photo by Tony McArdle/Everton FC via Getty Images

Current Everton Under-23s:

Joāo Virginia – GK – 20

Endured a cataclysmic first loan spell at Reading last season. Despite starting the season as their first-choice keeper, he quickly fell out of favour after several blunders, eventually dropping out of the matchday squad entirely.

Was recalled to the under-23s in January and played a couple of times for the under-23s before making his name on Everton’s first team bench on several occasions as one of two sub goalkeepers.

Virginia really needs to go out on loan once more, though, to show that he has learned from the lessons of his first taste of senior football and show that he is of the standard required.

Contract until 30.6.2021

Verdict: Go on loan

Nicholas Hansen – GK – 19

The American, who joined the club in 2018, was primarily back up to Harry Tyrer last season for the under-23s last season.

He will need to make the position his own if he wants to get a new contract though.

Contract until 30.6.2021

Verdict: Play for u-23s

Harry Tyrer – GK – 19

Played the majority of Premier League 2 games for the Blues last season, although he occasionally have to share duties with Virginia and Hansen.

Ideally would go out on loan to a League 2 or National League side, but more likely that he will stay with the under-23s for another season.

Contract until 30.6.2022

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

Jarrad Branthwaite – CB – 18 *PLAYER TO WATCH*

Needs no introduction after impressing when called upon for the first team at the end of the season.

There are a lot of questions about what to do with the 18-year-old now though, when the first team squad returns (ideally) fully fit.

It looks as though either he or Lewis Gibson will be Everton’s fourth choice centre-back, unless the Blues bring in a new player in that position. Either way, it would make sense for Gibson or Branthwaite to provide cover for the first team, while getting minutes for the under-23s, with the other player going out on loan.

I’d wager that Branthwaite will stick around for now after impressing Carlo.

Contract until 30.6.2022

Verdict: Dominate for under-23s and provide first-team cover

Ryan Astley – CB – 18

Was a regular feature for the under-23s last season, so one would hope he would go out on loan this year to get senior experience.

However, I expect him to hang around for another year under David Unsworth.

Contract until 30.6.2021

Verdict: Dominate at under-23 level

Con Ouzounidis – CB – 20

Having played for the under-23s level for three years now, there’s no doubt that the Australian youth international simply has to go out on loan to get first team experience this year, ideally to a top League One team.

Contract until 30.6.2021

Verdict: Go on loan

Joseph Anderson – LB/CB/DM – 19

The versatile defender broke into the under-23s last year and got a few intermittent appearances under his belt.

Needs to become a feature of the side this year in order to earn a contract extension.

Contract until 30.6.2021

Verdict: Become an under-23s regular

Kyle John – RB– 19

After impressing for the 23’s last season, he became a regular fixture at first-team training.

Now’s the time for some first team experience, though, and a League One loan would be ideal.

Contract until 30.6.2021

Verdict: Go on loan

Niels Nkounkou – LB – 19 *PLAYER TO WATCH*

Everton’s first piece of business in the summer transfer window saw left-back Niels Nkounkou join from Marseille. He’s set to link up with under-23s first, but there are big hopes that he can quickly become part of the first team set up.

Whether Everton sign another left-back to replace Leighton Baines this summer will be a clear indicator as to whether they see Nkounkou as a real and immediate first-team option. Hopefully he can come in and do well for the under-23s and provide cover in case of injury to Lucas Digne.

Contract until 30.6.2023

Verdict: Star for under-23s and provide back-up to Lucas Digne.

Tyler Onyango – CM – 17 *PLAYER TO WATCH*

One of the Academy stars of 2019/20, the lanky 17-year-old midfielder with a Fellaini-esque barnet shone for the under-18s last season and then impressed when making the step-up to David Unsworth’s under-23 side at the age of just 16.

He was subsequently rewarded with a three-year contract in the summer (the maximum allowed for under-17s) and hopes are very high for this athletic midfielder. Should look to star for the under-23s this season.

Contract until 30.6.2023

Verdict: Star for under-23s

Dennis Adeniran – CM – 21

Join the Blues in a deal worth up to £4 million from Fulham in August 2017, but he’s still yet to step away from the under-23s.

At 21 and having spent four seasons at under-23 level, the central midfielder simply has to go out on loan this season if he wants to continue to develop.

Contract until 30.6.2021

Verdict: Go on loan

Beni Baningime – DM – 21

Another player that shouldn’t be playing for the under-23s at this stage of his development.

Beni Baningime actually broke into the first team briefly in 2017/18, but a bizarre loan spell at Wigan in which he only featured once seemed to have marked a stunt in his development.

The touch-tackling midfielder did make the extended bench for Carlo Ancelotti’s side after the restart, but he, like Adeniran, needs first-team experience and fast.

He turns 22 before the start of the season, so he really needs to impress on loan at a Championship or title-challenging League One side.

Contract until 30.6.2022

Verdict: Go on loan

Einar Iversen – CM – 19

The Norwegian midfielder joined the club in 2017 and captained the under-18s in 2018/19.

He established himself in the under-23s last season and, with Everton flush in central midfield options, the club should really be looking to loan him out to a League One side – although it seems more likely that the Blues might keep hold of him in the 23’s one more.

Contract until 30.6.2022

Verdict: Star for 23’s or go on loan

Liam Higgins – RW/LW – 17

Made his debut for the under-23s in February and impressed as he laid on an assist for the winning goal.

Could start the season for the under-18s, but will hopefully become an established part of the 23’s setup over the course of the campaign.

Contract until 30.6.2022

Verdict: Become an u-23s regular

Ellis Simms – CF – 19

Banged in the goals at under-18s level and did the same for the under-23s last season, before making the first team bench at the end of the campaign.

Now it’s time for the big striker to go out and get some first team experience, ideally at a top League One club.

Contract until 30.6.2021

Verdict: Go on loan

Lewis Dobbin – CF – 17

Taking Simms’ place as the 23’s main frontman should be Lewis Dobbin, after scoring 11 goals in 16 under-18 Premier League appearances last season.

He made his Premier League 2 debut last season, but featured for just three minutes. Will hopefully see a lot more of him this campaign.

Contract until 30.6.2022

Verdict: Become an u-23s regular

Returning Loanees

Lewis Gibson – CB – 19 *PLAYER TO WATCH*

Lewis Gibson has a great loan spell last season in which he helped Fleetwood charge up the League One table and into the play-offs after joining in January.

He could well compete directly with Jarrod Branthwaite to provide first-team cover, but it’s probably best for him to build on his excellent loan spell last season with a season-long move to a Championship side.

Contract until 30.6.2022

Verdict: Go on loan

Callum Connolly – DM/RB/CB – 22

The time is nearly up on Connolly’s Everton career as although he’s had some solid loan spells, he’s not progressed enough to be knocking on the Premier League door.

With one more year left on his Everton contract, the Blues should be looking to cash in on the versatile 22-year-old.

Contract until 30.6.2021

Verdict: Sell

Josh Bowler – RW – 21

A mixed season for Bowler ended with relegation with Hull.

Another Championship loan is his best bet with one more year left on his Everton deal, but if a decent offer comes in, the Blues should sell.

Contract until 30.6.2021

Verdict: Go on loan or sell

Nathan Broadhead – LW – 22

Despite a positive start at League One Burton last season, injury and ultimately the pandemic restricted Broadhead’s effectiveness.

The Blues are rumoured to be courting offers for the 22-year-old winger and it’s probably the right time for him to forge a career elsewhere.

Contract until 30.6.2021

Verdict: Sell

Who Will Be Stepping Up from Under-18s?

Sebastian Quirk – CM/CF - 18

The highly thought of midfielder made the step up to the under-23s just before the pandemic, scoring on his full debut.

Now it’s time for him to establish himself with David Unsworth’s side.

Contract until 30.6.2022

Verdict: Become an u-23s regular

Rhys Hughes – AM – 18

Made the bench for the 23’s on a couple of occasions and now it’s time for him to make the step up after impressive for the under-18s with three goals and six assists in 15 appearances last term.

Contract until 30.6.2022

Verdict: Become an u-23s regular

MacKenzie Hunt – AM – 18

Stepped up to the 23’s last season, but injury restricted the attacking midfielder – who score the under-18s goal of the season in 2018/19 - to just two cameo appearances.

Contract until 30.6.2022

Verdict: Become an u-23s regular

Bobby Carroll – CM – 18

Injury also prevented Carroll from playing for the 23’s last season after impressing for the under 18’s, but he should be ready this time out.

Contract until 30.6.2022

Verdict: Become an u-23s regular

Zan-Luk Leban – GK – 17

Joined Everton from Polish side FCB Escola Varsovia in 2019, but picked up a serious knee injury in his first season.

However, he showed enough promise to be awarded a two-and-a-half year deal last December. Has primarily played for the under-18s so far, but the 17-year-old will hopefully step up to the under-23s this season, although may well end up as a back-up option.

Contract until 30.6.2022

Verdict: Step up to u-23s