Everton's young players have been praised by manager Roberto Martinez, but who are the ones to watch?
Yesterday I wrote an article on Liverpool’s next generation. But their Merseyside rivals Everton should not be overlooked when it comes to young talent.
In fact the Toffees’ FA Youth Cup campaign – and subsequent praise from first-team manager Roberto Martinez – suggests both clubs could be building for a very successful and competitive future.
Ross Barkley is the most obvious starting-point when you consider Everton’s stars of the future. In truth you can scrap the “future” and just call him a star, such has been his impact since he was handed a regular starting-berth in the first-team.
At just 20, the midfielder has already displayed an outstanding array of talents, alongside a confidence that both belies and exemplifies his years. But who are the other players Martinez may have been talking about when he said the following to the Liverpool Echo:
“They are a very talented generation and I want to create a real competitive edge in every position at the club.
“All the way from the ages of 16 through to 22 is a group we are going to pay a lot of attention to.”
The player of the moment is George Green – an 18-year-old central midfielder who has scored braces in the last two rounds of the Youth Cup and has helped Everton to the quarter-finals of the competition as a result.
He is also a player Martinez is quoted as saying he “loves”; which suggests a chance in the first-team may not be too far away.
Then there is John Lundstram, a midfielder who has already been praised by the European Championship tournament committee as among the best under-17 talents in Europe in 2012.
Currently on loan at Yeovil, he has two goals and three assists in 13 matches.
Further up the field, striker Hallam Hope has impressed for the under-21s, scoring four goals in 10 matches this season before spending a month on loan at Northampton, and scoring once in three appearances.
While 18-year-old forward Chris Long also has the goal-scoring ability to be a success at Goodison Park.
Martinez's ethos has not just been felt in the Toffees' first-team; it is something that he has begun to instill in every age-group, and they will surely only benefit from that, both now and in the future.
In short, while Liverpool have plenty of young talent either in their side or developing elsewhere, Everton are also building a formidable next generation that Martinez will no doubt put his faith in as soon as he feels they are ready.
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