Everton midfielder Tom Davies eyeing dream spot in Merseyside derby

29 March 2017 10:23

Saturday is likely to see Everton midfielder Tom Davies make his Merseyside derby debut.

It is a moment the Liverpool-born 18-year-old has been dreaming about since, seven years ago, he joined the Toffees academy - where a number of youngsters are being groomed to follow in his footsteps.

Everton's youth set-up successes are not a surprise as it has consistently provided talent for the first team, from a precocious Wayne Rooney to current star Ross Barkley.

With Everton's Under-23s requiring five points from their final three matches to win Premier League 2, the prospect of more players coming off the Finch Farm production line appears likely.

"It is probably the most talented group we have ever had," Everton Under-23 coach David Unsworth told Press Association Sport.

"Over the last two or three years we've been able to go into the transfer market and buy a young player like (Mason) Holgate, (Brendan) Galloway, (Dominic) Calvert-Lewin when they are still at an age where they can learn with the potential to become first-team players.

"We've brought players in to hone them to become Everton players.

"Everything is geared for every individual player to play for our first team - we are not here to facilitate any other football club.

"The job is not to win the (under-23) league, although that would be very nice, but the job is to produce Everton players.

"If we had a 17-year-old left-back who we thought had the potential to be in our first team we wouldn't recruit a 20-year-old left-back.

"We would give that younger player an opportunity to play in our under-23s - we would never block a route to our first team."

Davies, Calvert-Lewin and Holgate's appearances for the first team this season have validated that process and filled Unsworth with pride.

The former Toffees defender believes the environment in which they have been allowed to develop has helped their adaptation.

"Those have been the big three plusses for us," he added.

"This club has always given opportunities to young players and we have a manger who will give players that opportunity.

"It is a brilliant moment for all the coaches because you do feel like a proud father sat up there in the stands.

"But what we don't do is hold their hand all the way through their journey.

"We empower them to stand on their own two feet and when they get that opportunity in the first team they have to take it."

In addition to their footballing education Unsworth's players' feet are kept on the ground by the community work they do.

The under-23s are currently trying to raise £230,000 to purchase and operate a house close to Goodison Park which will offer 16 to 23-year-olds who have fallen on hard times, or have perhaps fallen out of the care system, a place to stay in Liverpool.

Earlier this season Unsworth and his squad spent a freezing-cold Friday night sleeping in the stands at Goodison Park with his entire under-23s squad and backroom staff to raise awareness of homelessness.

"It is a great reality check and that is why we do it," said Unsworth, who will be taking part in a celebrity Masterchef with fellow former players Leon Osman and Peter Reid.

"These guys earn good money, represent a wonderful football club, and they are privileged but the kids who we are trying to help aren't privileged.

"It is the perfect grounding for them that we are actually helping people less fortunate than ourselves.

"These things keep you grounded and humble and when you are a humble young footballer with talent you have a better chance of making it."

Davies, to name but one, is testament to that ethos.

Source: PA