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Everton youngster Dominic Calvert-Lewin continues his rise to prominence at Goodison Park

Jake Jackman

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Calvert-Lewin

Everton put an end to their recent miserable form with a comfortable home victory over Sunderland. It was a fixture that came at a good time for the Toffees, as they could rotate their starting eleven and return to winning ways. The real star of the evening was Dominic Calvert-Lewin, who has been developing a reputation for himself at Goodison Park as one of the most exciting young players in the country.

The 20-year-old was given an opportunity to start against Sunderland and it was important that he delivered a good performance. Everton’s struggles in attack mean that he is on the verge of breaking into the first team as a regular starter and he strengthened his case with two goals on Wednesday. He displayed confidence in front of goal with two great finishes to put an end to almost seven and a half hours of goalless football from the Toffees.

Despite the praise that came their way during the transfer window, Everton have started the season poorly and their attack looks to lack pace. Ronald Koeman has some exciting young players in Calvert-Lewin, Ademola Lookman and Sandro. However, none of them had done enough to earn a regular starting role. This performance from the former Sheffield United player will have provided the manager with some food for thought.

The rapid rise of Calvert-Lewin

It has been an incredible few years for the 20-year-old striker as he has managed to go from non-league to the Premier League quicker than he would have ever imagined. In 2014, he had started to make progress at Sheffield United and the Blades chose to send him out on loan for experience. Stalybridge Celtic were a team struggling at the bottom of the Conference North, but they played a key role in the story of Calvert-Lewin.

He was only with the club for five matches, but he scored six times and proved to himself that he could compete in senior football. The level wasn’t the best, but the experience was a positive one for the young forward as it taught him about the physicality of playing in the professional game. The Stalybridge manager of the time, Keith Briggs, discussed his debut against Hyde United with The Sun:

“He got an elbow and had a big lump over his eye. But Nick Cox, who was his academy manager then, came down the stand and told him to stay on the pitch and don’t come off. I always knew he had the talent, physique and everything he needed to be a footballer – but this was a toughening up process for him.”

The loan spell to Stalybridge was designed to toughen up a lightweight Calvert-Lewin and it certainly had the desired effect. He took the bumps and rode out the physical onslaught, before responding in the best way possible – goals. In that game, he ended with two goals and two assists. The attacker showed that he had the talent to go higher in the game and this experience will have given him the mentality to achieve that.

Another period on loan, this time to Northampton Town, gave him vital experience before he returned to Sheffield United at the beginning of 2016. He was afforded a few opportunities in the first-team and it was all lined up for the striker to have his breakthrough season during 2016/17. Chris Wilder was a big fan of the player from his time at Northampton, but a deadline day move from Everton saw him move to Merseyside in a £1.5 million deal.

Upon joining the Toffees, he spoke of the move being a no-brainer due to the opportunities that Everton gave to their young players. The Liverpool Echo reported the following quotes from the then-teenager:

“It was a no-brainer for me. You only have to look at the chance that’s given to youth here and the opportunities that have been given. The players that are in there now, you look at Mason Holgate, and that’s something that appeals to me as a 19-year-old player. You can’t ask for more than that. Obviously, your hard work pays off and I’m just looking for a chance to impress and show what I can do.”

Southampton fans had criticised Koeman for refusing to play youngsters at St Mary’s Stadium, but the Dutchman has been much more open to it at Everton. There is always a risk when moving from the Football League to the Premier League as a teenager, but Calvert-Lewin was correct. He was given opportunities at Goodison Park.

Last season, he made 11 appearances, including five starts, in the Premier League. Despite being a striker throughout his career, he has mainly been used as a wide forward by Everton. His pace and skill when dribbling makes him an effective wide option. However, club coaches believe he has the lot and can eventually make the grade as a top-flight centre-forward.

His club career has taken off and he now has a growing reputation in this country, but Calvert-Lewin’s most memorable career moment came on the international scene. During the summer, he played for England during the Under-20 World Cup and scored the winning goal in the final against Venezuela. Few players can claim to have scored a winner in a World Cup final, but the 20-year-old can already say that at this early stage of his career.

What is next for the young striker?

The striker is full of ambition and ready to continue progressing in his career. The next aim will be to break into the first-team on a regular basis and he is on the verge of doing so. Everton’s attack is struggling in the Premier League and Calvert-Lewin can provide pace to their front-line. That was clear against Sunderland as he showed impressive movement to race away from the defence in the build-up to his second goal.

Wayne Rooney is currently the first-choice centre-forward at the club, but he is approaching the end of his career and won’t be able to start every game. The cup competitions will provide the chance for Calvert-Lewin to gain experience as a centre-forward for Everton. His game-time in the Premier League may be limited to being on the wing, but he certainly has something to offer now.

Ronald Koeman is clearly a huge fan as he has used the striker in all five Premier League matches to date. This is a year of transition for the Toffees as they recover from the sale of Romelu Lukaku. They have the chance to build Calvert-Lewin and if they do it correctly, it could be his breakthrough season. He has the talent and mentality to go all the way to the top.

Jake is a student based in the South East. He is a Newcastle fan and has a keen interest in Dutch football. Jake can be found on Twitter here - @jakejackmann.

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Summer signing Josh Bowler finally starting to look the part for Everton

The summer signing from QPR is starting look the real deal for Everton.

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In the summer Everton made a number of new signings for the first-team, but what perhaps went under the radar was the improvements they made to the under-23 squad. One recruit signed with the future in mind was QPR attacker Josh Bowler.

As reported by Sky Sports, Everton paid the West London side £4.25 million for the talented winger, who signed a deal at the club until 2020.

He had previously played just 20 minutes of first-team football for QPR, so his signing did come as something of a surprise.

It is quite a financial outlay for a teenager and, looking at his statistics for the campaign, many Everton fans will be concerned he was a waste of money.

In 15 games for the Everton under-23s, the attacker managed to register zero assists or goals in what was an ultimately disappointing first season.

(Photo by Tony Marshall/Getty Images)

However, in the recent 2-2 draw against Manchester United, Bowler summed up his season for the Everton youngsters.

The 19-year-old was easily Everton’s best player in the game. He tormented the Manchester United defence for 90 minutes with his direct style, pace and trickery. It was a tremendous performance which missed just two things, an end product and a bit of luck.

Bowler though is showing all the right attributes to become a future Everton star. After a slow start to the season, he has come into his own in the final weeks of the campaign and Everton fans can rightly start to get excited about their summer recruit.

What Bowler now has the perfect base to build on during the summer. He needs to bulk up a little to be a pertinent threat in the Premier League, which is where the summer can come in handy.

Staying fit and continued to improve are all Bowler really needs to do in order to prove himself a top talent in the Everton system.

At the moment, the trajectory is looking good for this 19-year-old talent.

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If Everton are serious about top four challenge they must battle rivals for Clement Lenglet

The Frenchman has been sublime for Sevilla this season and Everton need a new central defender.

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After a summer of investment Everton‘s aim for this season was to challenge for the top four. It was a bold and ambitious plan which failed miserably.

They spent much of the first half of the campaign in the relegation reckoning, sacked their manager and have now limped their way to the top-half playing a dreadful brand of football under the guidance of Sam Allardyce.

It is fair to say, Everton fans are not happy.

Next season, the challenge again will be to try and compete with the Premier League’s elite.

But if Everton are going to do that, they need to improve one area of their team drastically – the defence.

Ashley Williams has been woeful this season and Everton fans would happily see the back of him.

Phil Jagielka does his best, but age is starting to get the better of him. Michael Keane took a while to settle following his move from Burnley.

Meanwhile, Ramiro Funes Mori has been injured most of the campaign and Mason Holgate has had an inconsistent season.

(Photo by Nathan Stirk/Getty Images)

A new centre-back is a must and, if Everton are serious about challenging for Europe, it needs to be a top defender.

Plenty are about at the moment, but the one which springs to mind for Everton is Sevilla star Clement Llenglet.

He caught the eye of English football fans after shackling Romelu Lukaku at Old Trafford in the Champions League.

The Frenchman has been in fine form for the club this season and now Lenglet is being linked with a host of clubs.

One such team is Liverpool, and with good reason. Lenglet has a release clause in his contract at Sevilla which stands at just €30 million (£26.25 million) – according to Marca.

(Photo by Aitor Alcalde/Getty Images)

Considering the price paid for the likes of Virgil Van Dijk, Aymeric Alporte and John Stones after the past year that fee is an absolute bargain.

Everton owner Farhad Moshiri is expected to dig deep into his pockets again this summer as Everton look to mount a renewed campaign next season.

Beating the likes of Liverpool to Lenglet’s signature would be the biggest signal of intent yet that Everton are ready to push into the Premier League elite.

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Everton’s under-the-radar £6m signing Lewis Gibson is a star of the future

The England under-18 defender looks a star in the making for Everton.

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Everton’s under-23s brought their season to an end this week with a 2-2 draw with Manchester United. It was not the campaign they would have wanted, after the brilliant PL2 title-winning season of 2016-17. But with David Unsworth stepping up to first-team duties earlier in the season and plenty of their stars from that season sent out on loan or joining the Everton first-team is what always going to be a tough one.

But in the final weeks of the campaign one player who has really stood out as an exceptional talent is 17-year-old defender Lewis Gibson.

His signature may have slipped by some Everton fans in the summer. The Toffees brought the England under-18 international to Finch Farm from Newcastle United. The fee for the player, according to the Liverpool Echo, could eventually rise to £6 million, so he was clearly identified as a top investment for the future.

(Photo by Catherine Ivill/Getty Images)

He has certainly looked the part this season.

Gibson has played 16 times for Everton’s under-23s this campaign, playing at both his preferred centre-back position and left-back. The talented defender was a member of the England under-17 team that won the World Cup last summer and he now looks like he could be the next great hope from the Everton youth system.

This summer he turns 18 and, given the standard he has showcased in the under-23s, he could genuinely start pushing for first-team football at Everton from next term.

(Photo by Filipe Farinha/Getty Images)

With the defence still an issue for Everton, improvements are likely in the summer. But Gibson should not be simply overlooked just because of his tender years.

Whilst he should not be a Premier League regular it would be great to see Gibson get game time in the League Cup and maybe find his way into the matchday squad on occasions next term.

Everton should not rush the defender, but if you are good enough then you are old enough. Gibson is starting to look like he could be the future of Everton’s defence and should get some reward from next season.

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