There has been quite a clamour for involving some of the Everton Under 21 star performers in the first team for their Carabao Cup away tie at Bournemouth and it seems as though Frank Lampard has also seen it as an opportunity too good to miss. He confirmed that “two, three or four” will most likely be named on the substitutes bench.
The manager also namechecked winger Stan Mills, striker Tom Cannon and centre back Reece Welch as three of those possible four, with Charlie Whitaker and Isaac Price also contending for a spot in the matchday squad.
So what can we expect and what form are these players in? Firstly, Stan Mills
Stanley Mills, much like his famous former England international full back father Danny Mills, is very much a right sided player. Unlike his dad, Stan is a right winger who excels in either a 4-4-2, 4-3-3 or 4-2-3-1 formation. He is very athletic, direct and relying on pace and power more than old fashioned wing play trickery. A key factor is his willingness to shoot, powerfully, on either foot and the fact that he rarely misses wide or over the bar. He works hard going forward and tracking back and has good stamina.
Form-wise he is having a stellar season. He has scored an incredible (for a winger) 9 goals across all U21 competitions and looks a constant threat on the counter attack. Is he in better form than Everton’s 3 senior wingers? Undoubtedly he is, though we have to recognise that the quality of defender at a senior level will be much higher than he has been facing. What sort of temperament does he have? He seems always calm and in control, rarely reacting to any challenges as he is very adept at riding them, he seems remarkably mature for his age and his coaches and no doubt his dad have helped shape that.
Next up, Tom Cannon
Tom Cannon has excelled since stepping into the main U21 striking berth following the loan departures of Ellis Simms, Nathan Broadhead and Lewis Dobbin. He is different to all of the afore-mentioned strikers and seems increasingly comfortable playing at the head of the attack on his own as the U21s, like the first team, deploy one main striker rather than a striking partnership. It is possibly that change (from playing with the likes of Dobbin as part of a duo) that has helped the progress of the Irish youth international. He is mobile, just short of 6 foot tall, not lightning fast but quite hard to dispossess. I’ve said it before but there is more than a passing resemblance to a young Alan Shearer. Nowhere near the level right now of course but he relishes blasting the ball rather than tapping it home when he’s got a half chance. Really, he’s over-flowing with self-confidence right now.
Form-wise he has, like Mills, scored 9 goals across all U21 competitions and the pleasing thing is the variety of shots he attempts and scores from, ranging from dipping volleys to powerful driven free kicks to even the odd scorpion kick! Compared to Everton’s first choice strikers he certainly appears to have more of a swagger about his play as if he believes he will score at some point. It will be interesting to see how he copes with senior defenders if he does get minutes. Reputations of the opposition will mean nothing to him, I’m sure of that.
Third, Reece Welch.
Everton’s young centre back, like team-mate Stan Mills, has already played a few minutes this season in the Carabao Cup. The 6 ft 4 inch defender had a breakthrough season with the U21s in 2021/ 22 as part of a back 3, usually playing comfortably on the right of Ryan Astley who has since departed the club on loan. Since the early part of this season the U21s have mirrored the formation of the first team and have gone to a flat back 4 and, in truth, Welch did not initially look quite as comfortable in making that switch to a central duo. He has since regained confidence and shown signs of the form that caught the eye last year.
If he gets minutes alongside the kind of experience that Everton have in abundance with Coady, Tarkowski, Mina, Keane and Holgate then he should fit in comfortably.
Who else, as Frank Lampard mentioned maybe up to four young players? Well there’s the in-form Charlie Whitaker who I gave a feature article to last week. Again, 6 goals as a number 10 this season and, for me a stand-out player for the future if he keeps working.
Also, midfielder Isaac Price. He already has some minutes under his belt from last season and seems to have come into form at the right time to attract the attention of his senior boss. A true centre midfielder, a number 8 rather than a number 6, he is still slight of build but he is athletic, fast across the ground, can tackle, pass and shoot well and just recently, almost as if he has been watching Lampard videos on repeat, he has found the happy knack of arriving late in space in the opposition penalty area. He has notched 5 goals this season.
Whoever plays, it is always easier to fit into a winning team which is maybe behind the thinking of Frank Lampard in implying that the players will be on the bench rather than starting. Let’s hope for success of course in the competition and a chance to see this fresh talent on the bigger stage. Good luck boys!