It’s all about opinion of course but I have taken a look at some of the brightest prospects that might be close to making that all important breakthrough into Sean Dyches’ first team matchday squad.
In selecting 5 likely candidates below, there are of course chances for others such as Lewis Dobbin, Reece Welch, Mackenzie Hunt as well as the injured trio of Kyle John, Tyler Onyango and Charlie Whitaker hence me reiterating this is only my forecast based on what I have seen over the last season or so watching the Under 21s very closely.
Potentially breaking through?
Ryan Astley performed very well for League Two Accrington Stanley last season until injury late on. He plays as a centre back though played comfortably at right back earlier in his career. With the rumoured departure of Mason Holgate and confirmed departure of Yerry Mina and Conor Coady, cover for the defensive positions is quite light and Welsh Under 21 cap Astley is a very good player, reads the game well. I’d liken him in style to a young John Stones although that is probably a pressure he’d rather not have! Interesting to see if he accepts newly offered terms to stay at the club now he has had a taste of competitive action. If he does stay then I think he has attributes the squad could use.
Lewis Warrington has had two lengthy loan spells in the Football league with Tranmere Rovers and Fleetwood Town and had really good reports from both clubs. Still only 20, he is a combative central midfielder who always “shows for the ball” is comfortable in possession and has a good range of passing. Playing for Everton Under 21s in previous seasons, he was primarily deployed as a defensive midfielder but has developed his skill set further up the field. Sean Dyche will like his “bravery on the ball” and now Tom Davies has departed it will be interesting to see if another “home-grown” Warrington can seize an opportunity.
I’m a fan of Sean McAllister. The 20 year old Northern Irish midfielder is a hugely versatile player. Great stamina levels, leadership qualities and an eye for goal, I have seen him play as a wide midfielder on both flanks, a central midfielder, a number 10 as well as a right wing back and right full back. As with all versatile players it is to be hoped that his versatility doesn’t become a personal negative for him in his development. In the current financial climate at the club however, “versatility” could be a powerful lever in his progress. Having already trained with the first team he is perhaps a dark horse for making a breakthrough. I would think his most promising role is as a wide midfielder.
Few Evertonians will not already be familiar with the name of 20 year old Tom Cannon. He finished the Everton Under 21 season as top scorer despite leaving in January with 16 cross-competition goals. Under the watchful eye of former professional striker (and Preston manager) Ryan Lowe, he undoubtedly raised his game further to score 8 goals in 20 appearances in the second tier of English football. He is clearly ready to either take the next step or consolidate that progress already made with another loan. Obviously he has an eye for goal and gets into good positions, has a shot as explosive as his name and gets scruffy goals as well as spectacular which is always a good sign. I think there are some similarities in style to a young Alan Shearer no matter how “heady” a comparison that is to make. Not a make or break season for him as he definitely has time on his side. He will score goals again next season for somebody!
Lastly, but by no means least, of those I tip to stand a chance of a breakthrough, right winger Stan Mills. Still only 19 so he has lots of time on his side to develop. He was second highest goalscorer behind Cannon with 14 cross-competition goals, as a winger too! He has a telling burst of pace with the ball at his feet, is direct and is rarely shrugged off by his opposing full-back. What I especially like in his play is that he is two-footed and can score by cutting in using his left or use a powerful driven right-footed shot. He even bagged several headers at Under 21 level, timing his runs cleverly to get goalside of centre backs. If deemed not ready yet to challenge for first team inclusion I think he is sure to get many offers around Championship or League One level where he would encounter experienced defenders.
Good luck to them all in their development and if they can save the Goodison coffers in the process we will all maybe chanting a few new names in the coming season or two!