Kieran Dowell might have fancied his chances of getting first-team football at Everton back in the summer of 2017.
The England under-21 international was the star of Everton’s under-23 team that won the Premier League 2 title that season. Everton were looking short of players in his area of the first-team and plenty of fans were calling on him to get a chance.
However, the arrivals of Davy Klaassen and Gylfi Sigurdsson made his chances even slimmer. It also did not help that club legend Wayne Rooney also returned to the club.
With his pathway blocked, Dowell headed out to Nottingham Forest where he showed glimpses of his talent at the City Ground.
So you might forgive the 21-year-old for being sick of England’s record goalscorer come January.
Dowell, who helped Sheffield United win promotion to the Premier League last season, was loaned out to Derby County this summer.
Tasked with replacing Mason Mount at Pride Park he has immediately gone into Philipp Cocu’s first-team plans at the club.
However, he is going to have a major fight on his hands when Everton legend Rooney joins the Rams in January. The 33-year-old will join the club as a player-coach, leaving MLS side DC United to return to the English game.
When he does so, Dowell will once again have to fight with Rooney for first-team football. However, rather than see it as a negative, hopefully, it can have a positive outcome for Everton’s talented but often enigmatic talent.
Learning from one of the best to have come through the ranks at Goodison Park could help Dowell finally become an Everton first-team option.
As long as he doesn’t have to perform in Rooney’s shadow.