Liam Higgins must have feared the worst over the last few seasons when following a series of injuries which did not help his development, he was rarely in the Under 21 side at the start of last season. The Wales Under 19 international was however offered and indeed signed a new 12 month contract with Everton last week.
It’s a nice reward for his determination if nothing else and make no mistake the boy can play. He is primarily a left winger but often featured as a right winger or right back at Under 21 level. Good stamina levels and attitude and scored a few goals too.
We may see more activity in the coming days/ weeks for the young professionals at the club. Of the Under 18s and Under 21 teams there are other young players who have, at the time of writing, yet to renew terms for 2023 onwards with the Toffees if indeed they are offered them.
Einar Iversen a young Norwegian box-to-box midfielder has had the cruellest of luck with injuries. Having fought back from over a year out he regained a starting position in the Under 21s in February and was pretty outstanding until he pulled up wiht a serious injury yet again. You have to feel sorry for him as he is now 21 and, as he was born before January 2002, it would mean he’d have to be registered as part of Sean Dyche’s 25-man squad unless he was simply to continue as an over age Under 21 player. That’s less likely to happen.
Mackenzie Hunt is in that same age trap where he would have to be part of the senior 25-man squad. He too is out of contract though he had a really good season following his conversion from a winger to a left back. He scored some stunning goals from that position and improved his defending to a good standard. I guess there is a possibility for him as cover for Mykolenko depending on club financial circumstances and, of course, number of places in the squad.
Ryan Astley, like Higgins, another young Welshman, spent the season on loan with League One Accrington Stanley and had a good season at the heart of their defence until injury ruled him out of the last month or two. He also is in that “21 year old trap”. Possibility for him to be included I imagine as he has always had a touch of class about his play and now has the experience of the hurly burly of League One. Can play right back as well as centre back.
Young goalkeepers Jack Barratt and Dylan Graham, though neither ever likely to be in Sean Dyche’s squad, could continue to develop as they remain classed as Under 21, indeed young Northern Irishman Graham is only 18.
Good luck to all the young players as they continue their careers.