Everton have always prided themselves on the quality of their academy, and blooding young players into the first team.
We spoke exclusively to Nigel Martyn, after he’d covered the Toffees’ game with Leeds for club media and had a chance to ask David Unsworth about the club’s top young prospects.
He told us there’s excitement around young striker Ellis Simms, who is just 19, but has caught the eye already.
Unsworth is currently Academy Director at Everton as well as being Under 23s head coach and told Martyn he rates Simms highly.
“Ellis Simms, centre forward. Natural goalscorer, still learning his craft, but he doesn’t snatch at chances,” said Martyn. “As happy scoring in the 90th minute, when you could snatch at it, for one so young – he’s a pretty cool finisher.
“He has all the attributes, he’s 6ft 1in, he’s got the attributes of a Calvert-Lewin, for instance. He’s still learning his trade so he’s probably another year, 18 months off.
“He’s been on the bench already this season but he hasn’t been on the bench when they’ve been 3-0 up and able to say, ‘go and have 20 minutes’. That’s the next stage of progression for him.
“He banged in all the goals for the Under 18s. He initially found the step up to the 23s hard to start with but his finishing has remained really, really strong. He’s still developing physically, and still growing but he’s one they’ve got high hopes for.
“It’s how he develops over the next period of time. Unsy (David Unsworth) talks highly of him and rates him.
As Martyn eludes to, there’s no guarantees with young footballers – but Simms seems to have the talent to make it.
In Dominic Calvert-Lewin, he has the ideal role model to learn from in terms of establishing himself as the main striker at a top club as young Englishman.
It’s up to Simms to make good on his potential now, but he might be one to watch in the years to come.
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