Visits from Leighton Baines, fast-tracked teens, and the inside scoop on the future generation of Everton stars
After his Everton under-23 side crushed Southampton 4-0 on the final day of the Premier League 2 season, David Unsworth stood inside the Southport dressing room and spoke four words.
“Thank you, and best wishes.”
This was not merely a token gesture. Everton were obliged to play under-18s and under-16s for the duration of the season, but they came out of it looking stronger. Finch Farm insiders agree that this is the most exciting crop of talent they’ve seen in a long time.
Unsworth is looking forward to returning to pre-season, but he told the ECHO that his team needs a rest.
That’s something you can say again.
Everton’s coronavirus-plagued season was made even more difficult by long-term injuries that forced Einar Iversen, Tyler Onyango, and Katia Kouyate to undergo surgery.
Unsworth was forced to shuffle his pack with ages falling by the week, and Ryan Astley, Josh Bowler, Isaac Price, Bobby Carroll, and Lewis Dobbin all lost time throughout the campaign.
“We had two under-16s on the bench tonight,” he told the ECHO following the Southampton thrashing.
“I’ve never known that in all my years as a manager of under-23 teams.”
“We’ve had players play up [an age group]when they shouldn’t have or when it’s too soon for them.”
“However, I have to admit that the players that have played have been a credit to the club and the academy, since we have essentially been playing under-18 teams every week.”
He isn’t exaggerating in any way.
The average age of the Everton side that defeated Southampton was 18. Thierry Small, a 16-year-old left-back, shone, and striker Charlie Whitaker scored a hat-trick in front of Marcel Brands.
Since being given his full debut by Unsworth in April, Whitaker, 17, has five goals and two assists in four starts, while Reece Welch, Lewis Warrington, Luke Butterfield, Stanley Mills, and Tom Cannon have also played against the. The summary comes to a close.