Everton FC: 10 Candidates to Be the Toffees' Next Wayne Rooney

Matt Cheetham@@Matt_CheethamCorrespondent IOctober 17, 2011

LONDON, ENGLAND - MAY 13:  Everton players celebrate victory after the Premier Academy League Final match between Fulham and Everton at Craven Cottage on May 13, 2011 in London, England.  (Photo by Dan Istitene/Getty Images)
Dan Istitene/Getty Images

Despite ever-strenuous financial restrictions at Goodison Park, Everton have always maintained a focus on producing some of the finest young talent around. 

In fact, last season the Toffees’ Academy finished as champions of the youth team game, winning the Academy Final against a talented Fulham side. 

After writing on Everton’s recent purchase of George Green, a young prodigy already burdened with a potential new Wayne Rooney tag, I was asked to compile a list of other players that may one day become the Toffees’ new phenomenon.

Not an easy task. 

As soon as any young pretender shows up at the Toffees with a peep of potential, like Green, the Rooney comparisons come flooding in.

Whilst some of the following may never replicate even close to what Rooney has and will achieve in his career, here are the best of Everton's latest batch of prospects.

They're all attack-minded, Academy-honed prospects, who one day may just become the Toffees’ next best thing. 

Ross Barkley

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Undoubtedly the leader of this current crop of teenagers, Barkley has already tasted first team action at just 17, and has even progressed up to the England Under-21s.

Had he not suffered a triple leg break a year ago, he would certainly have risen to even greater prominence by now.

Starting this campaign in the first team, David Moyes has insulated Barkley by recently casting him adrift from the starting line-up, though many fans are quickly demanding his continual presence.

His glistening potential has been enviously assessed by most, and his name has become a frequent feature in transfer gossip columns.

Despite this, Barkley is scheduled to sign a bumper five year contract with Everton in December when he turns 18, according to BBC.

This is something all fans will be relieved to hear happen. Nobody on this list displays better credentials to achieve eventual greatness than Ross Barkley.

Hallam Hope

With such a dearth of strikers at Everton, many fans already ambitiously envisage Hallam Hope becoming a first team star.

He seems to have many of the required attributes to succeed. Although, as with most of these players, he still has a long way to go.

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - AUGUST 20:  Ross Barkley of Everton compets with Akos Buzsaky and Alejandro Faurlin (R) of Queens Park Rangers during the Barclays Premier League match between Everton and Queens Park Rangers at Goodison Park on August 20, 2011 in Liv
Alex Livesey/Getty Images

Capped at England Under-17 level, he recently performed at the summer World Cup. At that age range, he has an impressive tally of 12 goals in 17 games. Hope was Everton’s top goal scorer last season at Academy level and he has already found himself on the fringes of the Toffees’ reserves.

Due to the competitive nature of the Academy at Everton, this season he has found himself on the periphery of things and is yet to register a goal. However, at just 17, it should only be a matter of time before he rediscovers this natural instinct.

When he does, he will once again spearhead the Academy and perhaps second string side.

John Lundstram

Lundstram is one that many Everton supporters are already investing a lot of optimism in.

Along with Hallam Hope, he spent the summer at the World Cup with England Under-17s and has progressed impressively through the Everton ranks. This season he has already started, and scored for the Toffees’ reserve side.

A midfielder by trade, in 2010 he was named Everton Under-16 Player of the Year after an impressive campaign.

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - DECEMBER 17: Jose Baxter of Everton battles with Aleksandr Volodko of BATE Borisov during the UEFA Europa League Group I match between Everton and BATE Borisov at Goodison Park on December 17, 2009 in Liverpool, England.  (Photo by Mi
Michael Regan/Getty Images

Seemingly poised for bigger things, Lundstram was quickly offered a two-year youth contract by Everton, which he signed in the summer.

Jose Baxter

For many, Jose Baxter’s name on this list may be a strange one, as many guess his time may have passed.

Initially bursting onto the scene as Everton’s youngest-ever player in 2008, since then he has only appeared fleetingly and has gradually began to drift off the radar.

England once harboured a keen interest in his development, continually checking in on him and installing him as captain of several age groups.

Once he emerged, Baxter was instantly hailed as a potential new Wayne Rooney—a tag that has proved too cumbersome for many, perhaps including Jose.

He has sporadically seen action as a substitute over the past four seasons, although slowly, he started being replaced on Everton's bench by newer, younger models.

A few weeks ago he was finally freed to find playing time on loan at Tranmere, where he has already scored twice. Whilst the whole Rooney connection seems way off in this instance, at only 19, there is still ample time for Baxter to resurrect his career path and eventually become a Premier League player.

LONDON, ENGLAND - MAY 13:  Everton players celebrate victory with the trophy after the Premier Academy League Final match between Fulham and Everton at Craven Cottage on May 13, 2011 in London, England.  (Photo by Dan Istitene/Getty Images)
Dan Istitene/Getty Images

Anton Forrester

Finding a suitable candidate to wear the number nine jersey at Everton has been an issue frustrating fans for several seasons. If Forrester continues to progress and eventually makes the grade, he certainly plays in the mould of a typical No. 9.

In 2010 he registered an impressive haul of 22 goals in Everton's Under-16s and since then he has progressed on to the Under-18s, playing a prominent role in their success last season. So far this year, he has made one of the Academy striking berths his own, already racking up six goals in the nine games played. 

Chris Long

A first-year scholar and new addition to the Academy, Long is a very exciting prospect blessed with pace and skill.

Only 16, he has already represented England Under-16s and 17s. He plays best as a striker but has the necessary traits to drop deeper and play off a front man if required.

Long has been in impressive form this season, already scoring six goals, including five in his last three Academy games. His form has kept last season’s top scorer, the much-hyped Hallam Hope, playing a wider role—even at times having to make do with a place on the bench.

LONDON, ENGLAND - MAY 13:  Everton players celebrate victory after the Premier Academy League Final match between Fulham and Everton at Craven Cottage on May 13, 2011 in London, England.  (Photo by Dan Istitene/Getty Images)
Dan Istitene/Getty Images

Long is another striker whose progress Evertonians will no doubt meticulously follow. The early signs seem encouraging.

Conor McAleny

After scoring the goal that clinched Everton’s place in the Academy Final, McAleny has now graduated the youth team setup and has been on the cusp of gaining first-team recognition for a while now.

Featured on the bench a few times, he will be desperate to show he deserves a more prominent role at the club.

McAleny is a certainty to start up front for the reserves, where he was last season's joint top scorer with Jose Baxter (joint third in the league overall), a level where he has found scoring easy.

Moyes recently stated in the Liverpool Echo how impressed he has been with McAleny’s progress and with such a deficiency of strikers he may well see some first-team action at some point this year.

From then on, it is up to him.

LONDON, ENGLAND - MAY 13:  Josh Pritchard (R) of Fulham in action against George Waring of Everton during the Premier Academy League Final match between Fulham and Everton at Craven Cottage on May 13, 2011 in London, England.  (Photo by Dan Istitene/Getty
Dan Istitene/Getty Images

Jasper Johns

Johns is another first-year scholar oozing talent, who plays best in central midfield. Capped at England Under-16s, Johns gained distinction for some solid showings in the national side’s prestigious Victory Shield tournament. 

Everton's Academy have continually churned out central midfield gems, and the early indications suggest Johns has the calibre to continue this trend.

George Waring

Waring's career highlight to date would undoubtedly have been scoring the winning goal in last season’s momentous Academy Final win.

Ideally suited to be a target man, he already towers above his teammates and capably leads the line.

He has been sidelined this year by a nasty injury sustained over the summer, but recently took his first on-field steps towards recovery. He is another one whose progress will be monitored by Evertonians this season.

George Green

As most media outlets have reported, Everton recently beat a cluster of clubs to the signature of the exciting George Green.

He has been given all kinds of accolades of by his former mentor, Archie Christie, including likening him to a hybrid of Wayne Rooney and Paul Gascoigne. Even at just 15, it seems many consider Green to have exceptional talent.

In several reports, Christie comments on Green’s spectacular hat trick against Aston Villa Under-18s, which included a long distance belter and an individual strike where he beat numerous opponents.

Since joining Everton Green, he has already bagged two goals in two games and seems destined for a whole lot more.

If you liked this article, follow me on Twitter:  @Matt_Cheetham for more EFC chat.