The Young Ones – Part 1

Phill Thompson 26/07/2021 43comments  |  Jump to last
At this time of the year, the new First Year Scholars are at Finch Farm and some are starting to appear in games. Their names are available, but we’re still waiting for the Club’s official “Meet the Scholars” video, so I thought I’d make a start!

We seem to have twelve official new Scholars, plus two new signings, and three U16 Schoolboys who are making their mark and are worth mentioning.


Roman Quintyne, right back, has been the most prominent of the defenders, playing not only at U18 but U23 last season. He’s a speedy, powerful, attacking full-back, not quite as powerfully built as Thierry Small, but I’m sure comparisons will be made.
Jack Tierney, centre-back, played with the U18s last season, featured in the U23s pre-season. Edward Jones and Charlie Wilson are the other defenders but I know little about them.


Jenson Metcalfe played U18 last season and also started at least one U23 game. He looked very accomplished in his U23 start, laying on a goal with a brilliant through-ball and never looking out of place against opponents who were much older than him.

Isaac Heath also played U18 last season and has featured in the U23s this pre-season. He’s quite small, but buzzes about like a speedy Peter Beardsley.

Owen Barker is another who played U18 and has also featured in England U16 squads.

Saja Manafa featured in at least one U18 game last season.

Shae Cahill is Tim’s son, I’ve yet to see anything of him.

Sam Coughlan and Halid Djankpata are the other midfielders but I don’t know anything about them yet.


Troy Smikler-James is the only forward but again I don’t know anything about him yet.

In the U16s, three names have emerged so far:

Emilio Lawrence is particularly highly regarded, he’s played for England through the age groups and is rated as one of the best attackers of his age in the country. He played a few games at U18 last season, scoring a cracking goal after a super run and cross by Quintyne.

Coby Ebre is a big attacker in the Elliott Simms mould. Like Lawrence, he played U18 last season and has featured for the U23s pre-season, scoring one goal so far.

Martin Sherif is the third Schoolboy to feature in the U23s pre-season, scoring one goal.

The Club will release more information soon and we’ll pick up little bits as the season progresses. Meanwhile, if anybody can help to fill in some of the many gaps around the players mentioned here, it would be great.

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Reader Comments (43)

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Alan J Thompson
1 Posted 27/07/2021 at 07:25:31
Many thanks, Phill, I enjoy reading about the younger players and any sign of the bloke from Sunderland.
I used to follow it all in the old couple of pages programmes of many years ago when they were the reserves, A,B & C teams which, unfortunately, were thrown out many years ago in one of my mother's decade emptying of the loft.
Phill Thompson
2 Posted 27/07/2021 at 08:20:44
Alan, the only confirmed signing I've seen is 16-year-old goalkeeper Dylan Graham. I haven't seen anything official from the Club about Francis Okoronkwo from Sunderland.
Tony Abrahams
3 Posted 27/07/2021 at 08:43:23
Good information that Phill, thanks for posting it mate.
Dave Abrahams
4 Posted 27/07/2021 at 08:44:14
Phill (2), Thank you for all the above information, keep it coming please, it’s great to read and then to see these young lads as they come through the system.
Ian Burns
5 Posted 27/07/2021 at 09:02:48
Thanks Phill - as Dave says please keep it coming. Not being in the country these days it is difficult to get a handle on the progress of our young players, so your article is appreciated.
Dave Williams
6 Posted 27/07/2021 at 09:47:27
I assume Isaac Heath is not related to Inchy?

I really enjoy your reports on the younger teams Phill - please continue!!

Dennis Stevens
7 Posted 27/07/2021 at 10:35:12
Thanks for your latest update, Phill, it's greatly appreciated. One of the things I most enjoyed last season was the availability of some of the matches the youngsters played, streamed via YouTube. Hopefully, there'll be plenty of matches shown this season.
Robert Tressell
8 Posted 27/07/2021 at 12:43:07
Thanks for this Phill. Is it just me or is the depth of real talent much deeper than it has been for a while?

No stand-out stars like Barkley but lots of very able players who look like they have enough for the first-team squad. You've named a few more who fit into that category.

And has it all gone quiet on Okoronwo or is that just a formality now?

Brent Stephens
9 Posted 27/07/2021 at 12:50:01
Great stuff, Phill (and Robert T when you keep us up-to-date). More! Encore!
Steve Ferns
10 Posted 27/07/2021 at 12:54:44
Cheers Phill. There's been no opportunities to see much of any of the academy sides since COVID so info on the scholars is scarce. I hope these lads do well and continue our golden patch of youth.

Robert, like with Thierry Small, Francis Okoronwo is simply waiting to turn 17, then he will formally be transferred to Everton. Small is likely to join Aston Villa on 1st August when he turns 17.

Robert Tressell
11 Posted 27/07/2021 at 15:36:57
Thanks Steve, that makes sense. Sad to see Small go but maybe Okoronkwo will turn out to be a good signing.

Looking forward to seeing him and Lawrence this season in the streamed u18 games - and Kouyate too.

Maybe one or two more signings for the academy too, like Jagne last season.

Steve Ferns
12 Posted 27/07/2021 at 15:51:54
What do you know about the lad Robert? He sounds like a left (?) winger, but he is 6'3" at 16, so he's a hell of a size for a winger. To play wide, he must have quick feet and pace. I have no idea, though, as I have not seen him myself. He was getting invited to AC Milan and other clubs around Europe so he must be alright.

As for Small, it's tragic that we have a genuine talent who could go all the way to the top. Certainly our biggest talent since Barkley and maybe since Rooney. His gripes about first team pathway sound like a load of rubbish. What other club has a clearer pathway for a left back than Small? We have Digne, Godfrey, and Nkounkou ahead of him. Godfrey will naturally move out of his way as he is a centre back and will want to play there. Then it's a straight fight with Nkounkou to be backup to Digne. Digne has had a few injuries recently, he is 28 years old, and I would fancy my chances if I was Small of getting ahead of Nkounkou and getting actual games over the next three years. Instead he seems to want to be left back number 5 at Man Utd or left back number 4 at Arsenal. Even at Villa he's not going to get closer to the first team. If he wasn't being a spoilt brat, he could have still delayed signing the contract, gone on our pre-season and played actual games and then seen how the land lies as the season approaches properly.

The lad has sacked his agent, presumably for advising him to stay at Everton, and I can only guess he has uncle Bryan (Bryan Small the Villa defender) and the rest of his Birmingham based family, in his ear telling him to come "home" and be a "villa legend" or something like that. However, it's probably something else behind the scenes for all I know. It just does not cast Everton in a good light, and we will get very little in compensation for him.

Petulant or not, he's only a 16 year old kid, so I will still wish him all the best when he does leave.

Robert Tressell
13 Posted 27/07/2021 at 16:33:26
I don't know anything more about him Steve other than the snippets you mention above.

As you say he's tall for a winger but he's been described as a striker too so maybe he's just big, skilful and fast and so can play anywhere across the forward line at youth level anyway.

With Small, we pinched him from WBA, and Villa are pinching him from us. It's a shame but this is the game we're in, with teenagers being shipped about like commodities. I don't really like it. Sad really that Sunderland have lost 3 talents now in Hugill, Mumba and Okoronkwo - all of whom are probably delaying their chances of first team football by moving to a bigger club. But just part of the game now.

Steve Ferns
14 Posted 27/07/2021 at 16:39:17
Yeah sad times for Sunderland Robert. I wish they turn things around and get back to the Premier League where they and their fans belong. I like going to the Stadium of Light and always get on with the "mackems". Then again, I said the same about Villa and now they are stealing our best youth prospect, competing with us for players, and threatening to finish above us in the table!
Jay Wood

15 Posted 27/07/2021 at 16:50:10
I don't follow your logic Steve that Small behaving badly 'casts Everton in a bad light'. It casts Thierry Small (and his advisors) in a bad light. Not the club.
Steve Ferns
16 Posted 27/07/2021 at 17:02:36
I mean that Everton are failing to retain one of their best young talents, Jay. It does not look good for us when he walks, particularly if he does walk to Villa.
Robert Tressell
17 Posted 27/07/2021 at 17:07:06
I think what casts Everton in a bad light is about 7 managers (inc caretakers) since we signed Small from WBA and about £500m down the toilet with nothing to show for it.

He's handled it badly, but I don't blame Small for leaving a club in such turmoil. Especially since he's returning to home of sorts.

Steve Ferns
18 Posted 27/07/2021 at 17:11:52
That's a fair point, Robert. It does not make it any less frustrating that this lad looks like a special talent with a big future and has a record in our history books as the youngest ever debutant.
Andrew Keatley
19 Posted 27/07/2021 at 17:12:23
The problem for clubs lower down the League pyramid (like Sunderland currently are) is that they just cannot compete with the contract terms that Premier League clubs can throw at a 17-year-old. Signing bonuses, wages, length of contract - the hefty pockets of the Premier League can dazzle the agents and families of the most in-demand young players.

As for Thierry Small, who knows what his motivation is for leaving the club, but it'll be interesting to see where he ends up if he does go. From what I have seen, he's a promising young player, but a long way short of the sort of superstar that some are making him out to be. He's a bit too "head down and charge" for me – and it'll be interesting to see how he does when he starts playing against players who he does not have a significant pace and strength advantage over.

Jay Wood

20 Posted 27/07/2021 at 17:29:10
Steve, you yourself listed many alternative reasons as to what has influenced Small's decision to leave. As Robert adds, Thierry is effectively returning to his home city if he joins Villa.

You yourself say the claims from his camp that he wants a pathway to the first team have a hollow ring to them given who is currently 'in front' of him at Everton compared to other likely suitors. I agree with you.

Robert, I think linking the high turnover of Everton's first-team managers to Thierry Small is a redundant one.

After joining Everton Small was 11- to 12-years-old under Koeman, Unsworth and Allardyce. 13- to 15-years-old under Silva and Ferguson. 15- to 16-years old under Ancelotti (who made him Everton's youngest ever 1st team player when subbing him on in an FA Cup game). Small and Benitez's paths have never crossed at Finch Farm.

Anyone who has taken the time to watch him play for the academy sides would fairly conclude he is a long way from being a starter, or even a squad player, for the first team.

A good number who do watch such games write of the same deficiencies in Thierry's game, primarily on his 'day job' – defending.

Sorry to see him leave, but that is his choice. I don't see this as a 'failing' in any way by the club.

Some you win. Some you lose. That's the roll of the dice with young players.

Michael Kenrick
21 Posted 27/07/2021 at 17:51:25
Thanks Phill, great stuff.

Dylan Graham seems to have flown in right under my radar. He already has pages at Transmarkt and Soccerbase – both sites seem to be getting a lot better at tracking our youngsters.

The piece I found says he signed a 3-year deal with Everton... but he's only 16. So that can't be a full professional contract, I assume?

His birthday was 31 October 2004 so he's got a few months yet until he is 17. I'm just puzzled at the nature of his contract and how it can be for 3 years. Is it really a 3-year scholarship, perhaps?

Tony Abrahams
22 Posted 27/07/2021 at 17:58:56
It will be a contract signed with an agreement of a professional contract once the player reaches the age of 17, I think, Michael.
Robert Tressell
23 Posted 27/07/2021 at 18:04:00
Jay, the specific point about managers probably is redundant. But the turmoil and lack of success it has brought probably makes it easy to leave.

As to whether he's any good, we'll see in the next year or two. He's raw and Andrew's description is apt but he stands out for end product and is the archetypal modern full-back (whether you buy into that concept or not). He certainly looked a likely first teamer before too long - possibly higher up the pitch to start off with before maturing into a full back.

Danny O’Neill
24 Posted 27/07/2021 at 18:18:30
Thank you for the insight and analysis Phil.

As always, way too early to know how many (if any) of these lads will come through.

But if someone is telling me we have a potential Peter Beardsley on our hands, then that has my attention!!

Thanks again Phil.

Steve Ferns
25 Posted 27/07/2021 at 18:33:54
Jay, I have watched every second of Thierry small that Everton and our opponents have put out. It’s not enough to judge him but I failed to see any of these deficiencies to which you refer. He looks supremely talented and a player I think may move forwards as he’s so fast and so good on the ball. I’ve also read nothing but positives from the journo’s who cover the youth and u23 sides. I’ve not seen any reservations from them other than saying let’s not get carried away. Unsworth was raving about him too. Maybe you found some stuff I missed. I hope so, as I don’t want to miss out on the special talent I think he’s going to be. Then again what ever happened to Ryan Sessegnon? His career nosedived after joining Spurs. Maybe Thierry’s attitude towards leaving belies a bad attitude that will hinder his career? Who knows? I wish the kid well anyway, even if he is one who got away.
Sam Hoare
26 Posted 27/07/2021 at 19:15:10
Thanks Phill. It will be interesting to see this new crop and what progress the likes of Price, Welch, Warrington, Whittaker, Hughes etc make this year. A shame that Onyango will miss the first half of the season.
Jay Wood

27 Posted 27/07/2021 at 19:16:52
You've missed the live in game discussions on TW when Thierry played then Steve if you've not read what I referred to about his play.

Nothing malicious. Nothing dismissive of his talents or potential. Just balanced comments by respected TWers who take a keen interest in the academy. Nothing like the rage of match day threads or the live forum.

He's good. But there were many individual performances that outshone Thierry in pretty much every game that was available to view.

It is notoriously difficult to gauge just how good a player may be at this age. Unless your name is Wayne Rooney who was evidently destined for greater things and ready for senior football at an even younger age than Thierry is now.

Thierry has yet to show he is in that sort of category IMO.

Robert Tressell
28 Posted 27/07/2021 at 19:57:21
Jay, I know what you mean. I made the point in a live forum thread that Kyle John seemed to understand the full back role better, know how to beat the press and know how to defend better. However, Kyle John has not attracted genuine interest from Arsenal, Man Utd and Bayern Munich.

I think a lot of us, myself included, don't always see what the real scouts are looking for. Small definitely has it. He's up there with anything in the u18s age bracket in British football. That's not my judgement, it's the judgement of the England set up and scouts across Europe.

Steve Ferns
29 Posted 27/07/2021 at 19:57:42
Not suggesting it was malicious Jay, just missed it. Due to Covid I have not seen him play with my own eyes. I have had to rely on the feeble amount of footage Everton release. As I said, not enough to properly judge a player. But reading what those who do go to all the games were saying, then it was so positive that they were having to try to temper people's expectations somewhat. I'd be interested to see the suggestions of flaws and see what I have missed.

Interesting you say that Robert, Kyle John has always played right wing until about 12 months ago! I was impressed with how much better he played at full back, but that was usually in games where he was racing forwards from deep and using his pace as opposed to his acceleration.

Interesting to read Unsworth has now released that there is a rotation of coaching in the academy setup. They have implemented one style of play. On top of this the coaches will rotate in and out of the u23s, presumably so Unsworth can improve them and get them on the same page as him? That's the way I read it anyway.

Steve Ferns
30 Posted 27/07/2021 at 20:15:44
Beni Baningime reportedly going to Hearts. That explains why he did not go to Florida.
Phill Thompson
31 Posted 27/07/2021 at 20:24:04
Michael #21, Tony’s post #22 is I believe correct, we’ve done this a few times with youngsters we’ve signed at 16, given them a guarantee of a pro contract at 17, Rafael Garcia and Seb Kristensen in recent years.
Steve Ferns
32 Posted 27/07/2021 at 20:40:34
Phil it's called a "pre-contract". It is a signed contract that only becomes legally binding at 17, and the player rip it up before then, but incurs financial penalties. If not, it is then legal and valid. I'm not sure if they come back in and resign it or it's just filed away. I expect new signatures are added as agents and lawyers will want to get paid again.

Here's an article on the subject if you are interested: Link

Phillip Warrington
33 Posted 27/07/2021 at 21:01:39
Why do they all seem to get lost at the U/23 level, I can not think of one player who has come through the U/23 and commands a regular starting position in the senior team
Andy Crooks
34 Posted 27/07/2021 at 21:04:47
Jay @27, you are one of a few on here, Steve, Dave and Tony A, Danny, who raise some very interesting posts about the academy, coaching and luck.
As you say, it is difficult to gauge ability at a young age. My dad scouted round Irish football for sixty years and found some decent players( By the way, I was right under his fucking nose for many of those years, but, hey)
We watched the Milk cup together and he was absolutely entranced by Franny Jeffers. He had IT, according to my dad.
The best footballer I have ever seen in Ireland, after George Best, played one season as a centre half in the Irish league.
I won't give his name, but he had it all.
My dad arranged for him to go to Sheff Utd. He un-arranged it. He said he didn't want to be a footballer, it was a pretty stupid thing to do as a job.
I'm going back to what Steve said about kids being set up for. life. The very best are almost unaware of how good they are. It is unfathomable, and indescribable. Five thousand have the same natural ability. One of the lucky ones is Tony Hibbert.
Five hundred have incredible talent and a lot of luck. They make a good living. One is Rooney.
Ability, belief, injury, confidence, coaching, desire, luck, who you meet, your girlfriend, your parents, your mood.
Take that to Finch farm and then set targets for the coaches!!
Andrew Keatley
35 Posted 27/07/2021 at 21:32:17
Andy (34) - Rooney was not in a group of 500 other kids, he was in a group of 4 or 5 in a generation. That sort of natural ability, desire, aggression and in-game brilliance comes along very very very rarely. He was the best prospect this club will ever produce.
Dave Abrahams
36 Posted 27/07/2021 at 22:18:30
Andy (34), I was in Wales the last few days and in Llandudno on Sunday I met a young Irish fella, we had a good chat about football and coming through the system, I never got his name, but he said he was a professional goalkeeper who played for The Northern Ireland U 16, 17, 18’s, he also played for Crusaders, Glentoran and another Irish team but just gave it all up because he no longer enjoyed playing football at a professional level but went back to playing with his mates in the amateur game, he seemed a genuine lad and he would be about 27, 28 or so. The main reason he gave it up was because of the coaches and their negative attitude to football, all defensive and more about stopping the opposition rather than attacking and having a go at trying to win the game, he said when he was younger he went for a trial with Leeds United who chose another keeper because he was 6ft.2 and he was 5ft. 10.
Andy Crooks
37 Posted 27/07/2021 at 22:24:37
Andrew, didn't explain myself too well. I meant Rooney was in a group I agree with you entirely. He was one of those who are beyond definition. One OF five hundred.
Tony Abrahams
38 Posted 27/07/2021 at 22:32:19
Rooney was the best and most natural young footballer I’d ever seen in my life when he first burst onto the scene at Everton, but I’d go along with your dad, Andy, because I thought Jeffers, had the most natural movement I’ve ever seen in a young player, and if it’s true what they say about never losing your ability, I’d argue that once the desire goes, (for whatever reason) then it’s rare to see a footballer, regain whatever ability he had beforehand?
Chris Hockenhull
39 Posted 28/07/2021 at 10:25:04
Roman Quintyne…..with a name like that he is assured of the place of a corrupt cattle baron in a 50’s John Ford western… eventually been sorted out by a chap like Gary Cooper
Mike Dolan
40 Posted 01/08/2021 at 18:24:04
Roman Quintyne, I wonder if he’ll get the Paul McCartney song if he makes it to the first team.
Andrew Bentley
41 Posted 02/08/2021 at 16:35:22
Anyone know what's happened to Thierry Small - thought he could sign a contract after the 1st of August so was fully expecting that to have been done and dusted (by another club - not us!) over the weekend.

With all the chat on our financial problems, the lack of *decent* transfer activity to date (as in exciting) then the reliance on youngsters breaking through and providing us some potential excitement only gets greater so will be interesting to see if Mr Small does move on or whether he stays and is given a chance by the club to step up into the 1st team this year.

Don Alexander
42 Posted 03/08/2021 at 01:33:05
Finch Farm has the shameful history of only producing for the first team, in the past ten years, his eminence young Mr Tom Davies, virtually everyone's idea of a bench-at-best squad player. That's it.

In addition we rarely sell a youth player for a fee. If we do it's minimal. None of our Academy players under the present coaching staff have ever gone to make us rue their departure either.

I genuinely take no pleasure at all in pointing out the obvious but I'm really perplexed by how many of us, us fans that is, seem perennially unwilling to point the finger of responsibility for our treadmill history of mediocrity, at best, for well over 30 years, at the owner, chairman and boardroom we've been cursed by.

Musing on the likes of Thierry Small is music to the ears of those complacent, failing shysters in the Liver Building. They see us as soaks, probably willing to accept for decades any old crap whilst they contrive to enrich themselves, and themselves alone, with minimal personal investment.

Jerome Shields
43 Posted 03/08/2021 at 09:22:40
Thanks Phil, have always found your posts informative on the youth system at Everton. Players information /progress and changes at the Academy from a fan who actually watches and attends matches aypt that level.

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