Everton have long had a steady stream of talent come out of their youth academy, and the next batch of hopefuls are edging ever closer to the first-team squad.
The likes of Tom Davies and Jonjoe Kenny are the latest examples of how the Toffees tend to give their youngsters opportunities on the biggest of stages, with many more seemingly waiting in the wings.
And in last year’s edition of The Guardian’s annual Next Generation list where they profile the next crop of talent rising through the ranks at Premier League sides, Everton’s very own Reece Welch was named amongst the division’s current crop of wonderkids.
Several mature performances from the 18-year-old at the heart of defence have caught the eye over the last couple of campaigns, earning the centre-back his first call-up to the England Under-19 setup last month.
“Welch is a composed, skilful central defender whose appetite to learn and work on the defensive side of his game has impressed the club’s coaching staff,” wrote The Guardian’s Andy Hunter.
After scoring two goals in his 23 outings for the Blues’ youth teams last term, Welch was rewarded with a place on the bench against both Brighton and Tottenham Hotspur, although he was left waiting to earn his first Premier League appearance.
The towering 6 foot 4 defender has carried his good form into the current campaign, though, starting all nine Premier League 2 fixtures after making the leap to the U23’s on a permanent basis.
And it may not be long before Welch is ready to overcome another sizeable hurdle in his short career. With Yerry Mina continuing to be linked with a move away from Goodison Park, Rafa Benitez could turn to the homegrown talent as he searches for the Colombian’s heir.
Only time will tell if Benitez is brave enough to place his faith in an untried teen, but Welch appears to have all the ingredients to be Everton’s next starlet, joining a long list of illustrious names.
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