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January decision time for Everton youngsters as Cannon departs on loan

Paul Tait’s comments give insight to development plans?

Everton U21 v Mansfield Town: Papa John’s Trophy Photo by Tony McArdle/Everton FC via Getty Images

Following Everton Under-21s defeat on Friday night, manager Paul Tait’s conversation afterwards perhaps highlighted the need for individual development with some of the squad. Indeed, there was evidence of that on Tuesday morning when it was announced that free-scoring Tom Cannon was to spend the rest of the season on loan at Preston North End.

The “development needs” of these young players probably fall into 2 main categories:

  • to capitalise on development so far and prove themselves in regular first team football
  • to begin to secure a future away from the club by showcasing their talent in men’s football

To put it into context, Everton now have 6 players who have barely played competitively for the first team who would, if still under contract, be registered as part of the senior 25 man squad next season. They are:

Joe Anderson, Kyle John, and of course the recently recalled Ellis Simms who are all under contract till 2024 plus Mackenzie Hunt, Seb Quirk and Einar Iversen all out of contract in 2023.

It would seem that for Anderson, John and Simms they need to go out on loan to avoid stagnation at Under 21 level. That is a fate that struck many a promising player back in David Unsworth’s days in charge of the U21s. Interestingly, for Simms who has barely had a sniff of action since his recall, having played 13 minutes for Everton the other week, he can only now go back to Sunderland on loan if he doesn’t stay at Goodison. I have not included Ryan Astley, out on loan as he would appear to be out of contract in the summer.

Everton v Derby County: Premier League 2
Astley, Anderson and Simms back in 2020
Photo by Emma Simpson/Everton FC via Getty Images

For Hunt, Quirk and Iversen a decision has to be taken whether to keep them around the club or, for their own career, cut the ties. It’s a very difficult time for the boys themselves of course but reality has to kick in at some point.

In addition to the “21 year olds” there are promising players who have been on the fringe of the first team namely Isaac Price, Reece Welch and Stan Mills who are badly in need of progressing somewhere if not Everton’s first team. Loans would seem to be the best routeway.

Indeed, the Under-21s boss confirmed that several of his in-form stars may be sent out on loan this month as they look to continue their development in first-team environments.

“We’ve had discussions around loans within the Club and we’ll see what happens this month. There definitely will be some going out - they need to. They showed in the Papa John’s Trophy that a lot of them are ready for men’s football and that’s the next part of their development.

“We’ll have to wait and see what materialises as you can never be 100-per-cent sure in the transfer window. In the meantime, we’ll continue to work and try to improve each player.”

Wherever the Under 21 players end up by the end of January, they should have a clear idea of what their longer term Everton futures look like, hopefully in the Premiership! Good luck lads!