Everton FC: 5 Candidates to Be the Toffees' Next Big Star

Matt Cheetham@@Matt_CheethamCorrespondent IFebruary 12, 2013

DONCASTER, ENGLAND - FEBRUARY 05:  John Stones of England U19 in action with Danny Amankwaa of Denmark U19 during the International Match between England U19 and Denmark U19 at Keepmoat Stadium on February 5, 2013 in Doncaster, England.  (Photo by Chris Brunskill/Getty Images)
Chris Brunskill/Getty Images

For a club hampered by financial frailties, the continuing success of Everton's academy is an essential aspect of the Toffees' foundations.

With so little to invest in new talent, it is important the club's production line flourishes and supporters are always keen to know the next potential superstar on the youth-team conveyor belt.

Leon Osman, Wayne Rooney and Jack Rodwell are graduates recently involved in England squads, and with the club's academy teams in strong form this season, it seems likely more will follow.

Here's a look at five teenagers all with the potential to be Everton's next big thing.

John Stones

If John Stones makes it to the top of the game the majority of the credit lies with Barnsley's academy, as Everton only prised the young defender away in January, for £3 million (via BBCSport).

Having already forced his way into the Barnsley side this season, the England Under-19 international is an exciting prospect. He's been playing as a right-sided wing-back at Championship level and has impressed throughout the season in England's second tier.

Stones made his first start in an Everton jersey on Monday night for the Under-21s and looked immediately at home, again playing right-back.

He appeared composed and comfortable on the ball, eager to bomb forward and untroubled lining up against an experienced Premier League campaigner in Simon Davies.

Given his considerable energy and exuberance, right-back seems a sensible fit for the moment, although he may eventually convert to centre-back, given his increasing size and strength.

John Lundstram

Fellow England Under-19 international, John Lundstram, is a slightly unheralded midfielder, also destined for a bright future at the club. 

Playing alongside Ross Barkley for much of his academy career, the attention often went the way of his more eye-catching colleague, however Lundstram is impressive in his own right.

A central midfielder, he's capable of sitting in front of the back four and spraying passes, adopting a more conventional box-to-box approach or even setting out further forward.

He's been constantly involved at international level and the fact he's now captain of the England Under-19s suggests he's highly rated within the national set-up.

On the field, he possesses smart vision, a fierce tackle, has a wide range of passes and hits a rasping shot. He's one of several youth-team players that would benefit from a loan spell in the next 12 months or so.

George Green

Green grabbed attention when Everton took him off Bradford as a 15-year-old back in 2011, beating a host of clubs to his signature (via the Liverpool Echo).

Since then, he has continued his rapid progression and has featured in the club's Under-21 side at just 16 years of age.

This January, he signed his first professional deal on his 17th birthday and looks an especially exciting talent for the future.

Green is competent in any attacking role; out wide, behind a striker or even as the front man, where he's recently appeared and scored for England's Under-17 side.

Matthew Kennedy

Kennedy is another attacking player poised for a big future.

Signed from Kilmarnock as a 17-year-old, where he had already broken through to the first team, he's been impressing Everton officials ever since his arrival. 

The Scottish Under-21 international is right-footed, but primarily plays on the left, looking to cut in and shoot. He's small in stature but has a low centre of gravity and brings with him an array of tricks.

His quick feet and rapid acceleration give him the ability to pass numerous opponents in an instance, and with a bit of work on his final ball, he could be a first-team player within a year.

David Moyes has already included him in a couple of first-team squads this season.

Ross Barkley

A name most will already be familiar with is Ross Barkley. 

The Everton youngster broke through to the first team last season and made his Premier League and England Under-21 debut at just 17 years of age, seemingly destined for immediate stardom.

However, his career's upward trajectory has stalled momentarily, and he's currently on loan at Leeds in the Championship.

Familiar in a central berth, he's been featuring in a wider role, which makes sense at this current stage of his development. Occasionally rushed and dispossessed in the middle of the park, on the flanks he will have more time to pick a pass and find his man, and he also boasts exceptional delivery.

Despite his recent slowed progression, there's no doubting Barkley's pedigree, especially considering he's only just turned 19.

His touch, vision and movement are already Premier League-class and with a bit more time honing his craft he should be ready to make a big impact next season.


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