Although we’re nearly in October, the Everton Under 18s have so far only played 4 games and, disappointingly, have only secured one win in the Premier League U18 Cup, the other league games ending in narrow defeats. They sit second to bottom (13th) of the Under 18 table having scored 5 goals in all games but conceding 7 in the process. It is worth noting that Paul Tait’s team last season finished 10th in the table and yet several players have gone on to join the Under 21 squad this season so it is definitely not all about results.
It would of course be harsh to judge the progress of the team and of course the credentials of club legend Leighton Baines on such a small sample. Most important of all is that these players develop their skillsets as they look to climb the ladder towards the Under 21s firstly and hopefully the first team squad thereafter.
Already featuring for the Under 21s are two of the standout U18 players, Francis Okoronkwo and Halid Djankpata so there is naturally some disruption to the line up which will not help at this stage of their fledgling careers.
The team usually set up in a 4-3-3 formation as follows:
Graham; Quintyne - Wright - Tierney - Ishe Samuels-Smith; Apter - Patterson - Djankpata; Barker - Okoronkwo - Ebere
They are the players that have started most games. Results have seen two 3-2 defeats, a 1-0 win and a 1-0 reverse.
Goalscorers this season have been Okoronkwo with two and one apiece for fellow forward Coby Ebere, midfielder Matthew Apter and defender Jack Tierney.
There have been precious few video highlights made public but from the clips we have seen Okoronkwo is head and shoulders (literally) above opposition defenders and is looking adept at playing both centre forward and also as a winger. He has featured recently for Paul Tait’s Under 21s playing left wing and not looked out of place. Also looking promising is Ebere who plays similar to Okoronkwo, either wide or as a main striker. Not mentioned so far is attacking midfielder/ winger Owen Barker who appears to have a wand of a left foot.
Interesting facts to note around some of the names you might have heard. There has been no sign of Shae Cahill, son of Tim, getting a game and he was absent for much of last season also but is still listed as a U18 squad member. Quite what is happening we are not sure. The Samuels-Smith brothers Ishe and Odin, both defenders have been getting game time and there’s a very intriguing name appearing on the bench twice as substitute goalkeeper, George Pickford. There is next to no information other than the name appearing on the official website match details but you would be forgiven for thinking that he may somehow be related to Everton and England number 1, Jordan?
Next up for Baines’s boys on Saturday 1st October is a game against 4th placed Manchester City. We are sure to find out more about the way they are shaping up over the next few months, the FA Youth Cup will be in early November and also hopefully a few of the mysteries around the players who are missing or who have famous names will be solved!