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What next for Everton Under 23 players with expiring contracts?

The January transfer window shutting raises some key questions

Everton v Brighton & Hove Albion: Premier League 2 Photo by Emma Simpson - Everton FC/Everton FC via Getty Images

With recent fine results including the 1-0 win over Spurs on Monday, the Everton Under 23 focus now probably turns to what the last few days of the transfer window might mean for David Unsworth’s squad and possibly Everton’s new head coach when he arrives.

What we know so far is that Ellis Simms has departed on loan to Scottish Premiership side Heart of Midlothian for the rest of the season. He made his debut for the Jambos as a second half substitute the day of his signing, and then today even got his first goal for Hearts.

Some players out of contract this summer have barely played at the U23 level so I am assuming they may find themselves looking for another club. Possibly (and hopefully) there are opportunities to get game time in Leagues 1 or 2 for some of them so that they may earn a contract elsewhere.

Of those who have played a fair bit for the U23s but are out of contract in the summer it is a more complicated situation.

Everton v Derby County: Premier League 2
Joe Anderson (R) of Everton celebrates his goal with Ryan Astley Matthew Pennington and Einar Iversen (L)
Photo by Emma Simpson/Everton FC via Getty Images

Joe Anderson, Rhys Hughes, Mackenzie Hunt and Sean McAllister have all played games this season, Anderson and Hughes in particular, a lot of games. They have not featured heavily with the first team training even when their numbers were badly hit so it is unlikely that they will be offered extensions to their Everton contracts. Tricky situation for them and hopefully the Club will have their best interest at heart.

To leave on loan for say a League 1 club but then not play potentially leaves them well and truly forgotten about. To stay at Everton and fight for contract renewal might turn out to be their best option as they may well get games which, as we all know, are regularly attended by scouts from other clubs.

What of those players who have shone for the U23s but still find themselves without a contract extension? Of course we don’t know for sure that they have not been offered fresh terms and are simply weighing up options (like Lewis Dobbin has until the welcome news of his signing on Thursday).

The players I’ve not so far mentioned who have stood out in recent seasons include Lewis Warrington and Einar Iversen.

Iversen, firstly, was outstanding before an anterior cruciate ligament injury cruelly finished his season in March 2021. A fine box to box Norwegian U21 international midfield prospect, there has been no news on his progress but he has certainly not played this season. If fully recovered you would imagine he would be offered fresh terms.

Everton U18 v Wigan Athletic U18: FA Youth Cup
Lewis Warrington (L) and Tyler Onyango
Photo by Tony McArdle/Everton FC via Getty Images

So that leaves the curious case of midfielder Lewis Warrington. People who watch the U23s are surprised that he rarely if ever gets a look in with the first team. From what I have seen (and he is back in great form) he is just as, if not more worthy of inclusion in the first team set up as Tyler Onyango. They’re very different players but Warrington though shorter in stature has a confidence about him and looks comfortable in possession even under close pressure.

There are never any guarantees of course that players can make the step up and also we don’t have access to all the behind the scenes assessments that will be available. Hopefully the right decisions will be made and these young Blues can have flourishing careers in the game.

We will watch the transfer window over the next days for the future of these young Blues.