With two Premier League 2 titles in 2016-2017 and 2018-2019 David Unsworth and his team have been doing a good job at Under 23 level. But as always the question is what is the main aim for the Under 23’s and the answer is obvious to produce players for the first team. If this is not the case, then to produce players who can be moved on sold for a fee to have careers in the game at some sort of level. It is not to keep players around the club who have next to no chance of ever becoming a first team player. Which brings us back to those two titles. It will be three years on from the 2016-2017 title wining team when the new season starts. Who from that team has made it as a first team player? Tom Davies certainly has become part of the first team squad making the step up half way through the 2016-2017 season. Jonjoe Kenny is the only other player from the 2016-2017 team to make any impact on the Everton first team. After three years the question has to be asked why we still have so many players from that 2016-2017 team on the Clubs books, when they are nowhere near the first team.
Still only 20 Baningime was a major part of the midfield, which won the title in 2016-2017. Since then he has made 11 first team appearances and was with the first team last pre season but an injury meant he never got the chance to play in any the toffees friendlies. He eventually went on loan to Wigan Athletic. Injury and an inability to force himself into the Wigan team meant first team football was limited last season which was a right off for him. That said Baningime is probably the one player from the names below who if he can get fully fit may have a future at the blues, although another loan may have to be what comes in the new season.
Connolly has had one first team appearance replacing Seamus Coleman for 30 minuets against Southampton in 2017. He has also had loan spells at Barnsley, Wigan Athletic, Ipswich Town and Bolton Wanderers. He did nothing special during last pre season and is nowhere near the first team.
Dowell has had quite successful loan periods with Nottingham Forest and Sheffield United but has never taken his chance when given cup games for the blues. Time has run out on Dowell at Everton. He looked the best prospect from the 2016-2017 bunch, but sadly his potential has not been realised at Goodison. A good career lies ahead for Dowell if he moves on.
A year younger than most of the other 2016-2017 players Evans actually moved to Morecambe on loan for the 2nd half of the 2016-2017 title winning season. Has been one of the better players at Under 23 level in the following two seasons and spent the second half of last season on loan at Blackpool. A player with undoubted talent, but again can anyone make a case for him being anywhere near the first team?
Feeney was one of the youngest players, which won the 2016-2017 title. He also was one of the many young players to play at Apollon Limassol in the Europa League dead rubber. Centre Back Feeney has been a main stay of the Under 23’s since the title 2016-2017 triumph, picking up a second title in the season just gone. Feeney is still only 20 so may have time to make an impression, but this season for me will be make or break for him at Everton.
No need to cover Jonjoe’s record. A very competent player who should have made the right back spot his own during Seamus Coleman’s long injury absence, but lost his place once Coleman was fit and dropped from the first team picture. He has signed a year long loan for the new season with Bundesliga outfit Schalke. If he is not really in Marco Silva’s plans for the next season then I would rather we had tried to cash in on him than sending him out on loan. Will a good season at Schalke give him a chance to claim the right back spot in 2020-2021, maybe, but I have my doubts.
Contracted to the club until 2021 Centre Back Pennington has made 7 first team appearances and always looked out of place in the first team in my opinion. While at the blues Pennington has had two loan spells at Prenton Park with Tranmere Rovers, as well as loans at Walsall, Coventry City, Leeds United and last season Ipswich town. Absurdly Pennington will be 25 in October, there are late developers but !!!!!!!! It is clearly time for him to find a proper home away from Goodison.
Left back Robinson moved on loan to Bolton Wanderers the season after the 2016-2017 title were he did well. Last season he spent on loan at Wigan Athletic were again he was a regular in the team. Robinson has also gained a number of full international caps for the USA. With Leighton Baines being given a one year contract to keep him at the club as back up to Lucas Digne for the 2019-2020 season Robinson will have a choice to either move on or take another season long loan.
Signed from Coventry City forward Sambou overcame an injury to score 6 goals in the latter half of the 2016-2017 title winning side. He has been a leading light up front for the Under 23’s in the subsequent two season but looks a player below Premier League level. His contract is up this Summer, Everton are prepared to offer him a one year extension, why I don’t know, but it does seen that Sambou his looking to his own future and will be moving on from the Club which will be the right decision.
Williams has had successful loan spells at Barnsley and Bolton Wanderers and appeared to be on Silva’s radar before joining Bolton on loan last season. He will be 23 at the end of this year and needs at that age to be finding first team football somewhere.
The question is can anyone really say that any of these players still have a future at Everton? For me Baningime has a chance and their may be a possibility for Robinson but that is it for me. With Marcel Brands now a year into the job and the whole academy structure working more to his liking it is hoped that in future earlier decisions on Under 23’s players will be made so we don’t have players hanging round the club for three or more years with no prospect of ever making a dent on the first team.