Everton FC: Why John Lundstram Will Be the Toffees' Next Academy Success Story

Matt Cheetham@@Matt_CheethamCorrespondent IMarch 8, 2013

MILTON KEYNES, ENGLAND - MARCH 05:  John Lundstram (R) of Doncaster Rovers contests the ball with Darren Potter of MK Dons during the npower League One match between MK Dons and Doncaster Rovers at Stadium MK on March 5, 2013 in Milton Keynes, England.  (Photo by Pete Norton/Getty Images)
Pete Norton/Getty Images

Everton's academy is renowned for being one of the more elite production lines in English football. 

Wayne Rooney, Leon Osman and Jack Rodwell are three recent graduates currently in and around the England squad and many other former trainees have gone on to forge successful professional careers.

Having been crowned academy champions in 2011 and now into the last eight of this season's FA Youth Cup, it seems more will soon be following suit.

One player increasingly close to making that jump to the first team is John Lundstram.

The central midfielder—who turned 19 in February—has been slightly unheralded compared to some of his fellow recent scholars, but that doesn't detract from his obvious potential. 

So often partnering Ross Barkley in midfield at both club and international level, Lundstram's unfussy approach has at times been masked by some of his peer's more adventurous contributions.

While Barkley would be spraying extravagant passes and belting in shots from distance, Lundstram would be dictating the tempo with frequent, accurate passes; providing others with a platform to excel.

That's not to say he doesn't possess impressive attributes himself. Given space to shoot, he hits a rasping shot—as was on display for England Under-19s during the summer—and he's very much a box-to-box midfielder, prone to a crunching tackle or two. 

However, as more celebrated prospects—such as Barkley, Rodwell or Jose Baxter—were showing individual skill, dribbling around or sprinting past opponents; Lundstram's been integral in orchestrating his side's approach.

These qualities have always been recognised at international level. He's featured in several age ranges for his country, often as captain, and is currently leading the England Under-19 side.

Having been a regular in Everton's Under-21s for the past 18 months, he's just joined League One high-flyers Doncaster on an initial one-month loan deal; his first foray into the professional ranks. 

After a handful of games, the youngster's already impressed his manager and fans alike, and the club are already looking to extend his stay.

Such instant success is a typical return from Lundstram, who's generally been quick to capitalise on any chance that comes his way.

Playing with the England Under-17s at the 2011 European Championships, he was one of just two Englishmen named in the team of the tournament and was individually commended by Uefa.

Going to the same tournament last summer, but at Under-19 level, he began on the fringes of selection, before a goal-scoring cameo soon thrust him firmly into the starting lineup.  

He's also been similarly quick to shine at Everton, where he's predominantly appeared for youth teams well above his age and has been performing for the Under-21s since he was 17.

Given the amount of academy prospects who suggest so much before eventually drifting away, it's always a dangerous game championing their cause before they actually make the grade.

Regardless of initial promise there are countless mental, physical and technical hurdles still to negotiate before anyone can be assured of becoming a success.

That said, if any of Everton's current products are destined for the top, Lundstram surely stands as a red-hot favourite.

If he can use his first taste of competitive football as another springboard in his development, he could soon be pressing for a place in and around the Everton first team squad. Once there, he may well end up staying.