David Unsworth waxes lyrical over ‘sensational’ Everton prospect Charlie Whitaker
David Unsworth has waxed lyrical over Everton’s ‘sensational’ Charlie Whitaker but warned the Liverpool Echo: ‘I’m not getting over-excited.’
The Toffees youth boss believes Whitaker has a bright future in the game after handing the 17-year-old his Under 23s debut last month, and quickly seeing the forward score five goals in five games and pen two assists.
Whitaker added the last to his tally with a final day hat-trick at home to Southampton’s B-team, under the watchful eyes of Director of Football Marcel Brands and Carlo Ancelotti’s assistant coach Duncan Ferguson.
Whitaker had already established a strong goalscoring record in Paul Tait’s U18s before stepping up to the U23s with six goals, but Unsworth believes he has taken another step in his development by playing in a set position.
“He has played out wide, he has played up-front, but we have tried to play him as a second-striker, not a number 10, a second-striker, because his game is naturally dropping into spaces where you want a number 10,” Unsworth said.
“We have tried to get someone up there with him and he has been sensational. He is a great trainer, great to work with and a great lad. He does the hardest thing in the game, which is score goals, and he makes it look really easy.
“For the size of him, he is good in the air, he is brave, we just need him to link play and the future is bright for him. I’m not getting over-excited, because you can’t, it is too early. But the signs are very, very good.”
Whitaker certainly ended the youth season on a high by stepping up to Unsworth’s U23s and taking to it like a duck to water, and will hope to replicate those performances across the full 2021/22 campaign to see that he joins Dominic Calvert-Lewin in the first-team.
Learning from Unsworth should also help Whitaker in his development, having been given the freedom to play in a position better suited to his style, which is not too dissimilar from how Ancelotti has set Calvert-Lewin and Richarlison out to play regularly this term.
Continuing to impress in the U23s under the watch of Brands could also see Whitaker edge ahead of Ellis Simms in contention for a senior role, and see that Unsworth no longer tempers expectations of the former Blackburn Rovers trainee.
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