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How do the Everton youth squads look after the January transfer window?

Much churn among the U-18 and U-21 ranks as player departures and promotions create opportunities

Liverpool U18 v Everton U18 - U18 Premier League
Matty Apter (r) one of the many players to have emerged into the U21 set up
Photo by Nick Taylor/Liverpool FC/Liverpool FC via Getty Images

Over the turbulent month of January there has been much change, some of it temporary among the youth ranks at Finch Farm.

Managerially, until the arrival of new head coach Sean Dyche, there was a temporary promotion to the first team for youth coaches Paul Tait and Leighton Baines. In turn that gave opportunity for two other former Blues youth players, Keith Southern and Scott Phelan, to take the Under 21 reins whilst to complete the reshuffle, Kieran Driscoll, who has been a development coach for the likes of Manchester City and Wigan Athletic for over 10 years, took the Blues’ lower Under 18 age group.

Player-wise, there was a permanent exit for U21 midfielder Seb Quirk to Accrington Stanley where he joined up again with fellow Blues loanee Ryan Astley. Also, the experienced U21 defender Joe Anderson left on a permanent transfer to Sunderland. We had previously seen the recalled Ellis Simms make the reverse journey to Anderson to join up with Toffees first team training. Simms’ only other conceivable option at the end of the transfer window, having played a few minutes under Lampard, was to have returned to Sunderland either on loan or permanently. Suffice to say he stayed put. He is now one of only 3 out and out “senior” strikers at the club along with Calvert-Lewin and Maupay so we can almost disregard him as being available at youth level.

Preston North End v Tottenham Hotspur: Emirates FA Cup Fourth Round
Tom Cannon featured for Preston against Tottenham in an FA Cup defeat
Photo by Stu Forster/Getty Images

Similarly, during the window, we saw the boomerang loan return of Tyler Onyango from Burton before he was reunited with ex Blues legend Duncan Ferguson, new manager at Forest Green Rovers. French defender Niels Nkounkou didn’t even touch down at Finch Farm as he swapped the blue of Cardiff City for the green of Saint Etienne. As everyone knows, leading Under 21 goalscorer Tom Cannon headed out on loan to Championship club Preston North End.

Quite surprising in some regards that no other promising U21 players such as Kyle John, Isaac Price, Stanley Mills or Reece Welch were given the opportunity to prove themselves further on loan at a Football League club. All 4 have trained with the first team at different times. Welch did reportedly have his loan to MK Dons pulled at the last minute of the window, presumably at Sean Dyche’s request.

Is it possible that, given the lack of new players joining at any level in the club, that the afore-mentioned 4 players plus possibly striker Frankie Okoronkwo might seriously squeeze into Dyche’s thinking for first team duties? Given the hugely important nature of the Premiership survival fight maybe Dyche will insist on senior players pulling the club out of its nosedive towards the Championship, but who knows? It is almost like fresh blood being available and the Welch U-turn might have a significance after all?

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

Incoming in January to the Under 21s we saw the welcome return to fitness of young Norwegian midfielder Einar Iversen after a long injury lay off, whilst the continued injury absence of Charlie Whitaker and Sean McAllister created further opportunities for players from the lower age group, most significantly, midfielders Matty Apter and Callum Bates. Neither of those two looked at all out of place in the U21 set up, both showing great energy and vision. Nor can that be said of 16 year old Ishe Samuels-Smith who has played at both left back and centre back in recent U21 games and has shown skill and maturity way beyond his years.

The change and churn, while not always good for results at youth level is priceless for the youngsters to get experience of playing against players from a higher age group. You never know that experience for some may just come a little closer to home than expected! Over to you Sean Dyche!