Mid-season Review of Everton Under-21s: A Varying Few Months

Mid-season Review of Everton Under-21s: A Varying Few Months

Is there anything professional to decide during the January transfer window?

As Everton Under 21s concluded their recent game, a 0-0 draw against Feyenoord in the Premier League International Cup on December 19th, it marked the midway point of their season,

with the next scheduled match not until well into January, resulting in an almost four-week gap.

The past few months have been a mix of developments for Paul Tait’s young squad.

The departure of key players such as Stan Mills, Reece Welch, Lewis Warrington,

and loaned goalkeepers Harry Tyrer and Zan-Luk Leban, along with Tom Cannon

permanently leaving, created squad stability challenges, as anticipated.

In addition to these loan moves and Cannon’s departure,

Tait has navigated the positive elevation of Lewis Dobbin, Mackenzie Hunt, and more recently,

Elijah Campbell and Jenson Metcalfe, all of whom have found spots on the first-team substitutes’ bench.

The focus remains on these promotions, signaling a shift from the past when

Under 21 followers often witnessed players beyond the age of 21 who were unlikely to

secure regular first-team spots. Notable players like Matthew Pennington, Callum Connolly, and Ellis Simms, who have moved on to successful professional careers elsewhere, highlighted this trend.

A noteworthy change this season involves using Under 21 games to assess or

enhance the fitness of first-team squad members. Players like Seamus Coleman,

Jarrad Branthwaite, Jack Harrison, Ben Godfrey, Joao Virginia, and most recently, Andre Gomes, have all participated. If fit, Dele Alli may also make appearances at this level.

The current season record includes 5 wins, 3 draws, and 8 defeats across competitions, with 19 goals scored and 28 conceded. The team currently occupies the 23rd position in the Premier League 2 division out of 26 teams, with Manchester City sitting at the bottom.

Looking ahead to the next five months for Tait’s squad, there are impending career decisions.

Players like 22-year-olds Ryan Astley and Kyle John, both defenders, may need to explore

opportunities elsewhere as they enter the last six months of their contracts. Goalkeeper

Jack Barrett, a 21-year-old who has seen limited action at the Under 21 level, faces a similar situation.

For 22-year-old Mackenzie Hunt and 21-year-old Sean McAllister, who have been

regulars on the first-team bench, outgoing loans might prompt contract extension offers or potential roles in bolstering the senior squad. Their contracts expire in June 2024.

In terms of true developmental loans, Francis Okoronkwo emerges as a likely candidate

for a temporary move to a League One club. While his physical attributes are evident at the

Under 21 level, he needs to convert more goals, and a loan to seasoned professionals

could offer valuable experience. Despite these considerations, Everton has wisely

extended Okoronkwo’s contract until June 2026, emphasizing his potential

to become a first-team fringe player with a successful loan spell, akin to Youssef Chermiti in terms of age and promise.

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