England U-20 squad highlights the quality of the youth at Everton

Posted by Luke O'Farrell

Chris Brunskill/The FA/Getty ImagesEngland Under-20 player Ross Barkley is expected to see more playing time at Goodison in 2013-14.

International attention turns to the Under-20 World Cup later this month following the dismal display of the England Under-21 side in the recent European Championships. The tournament starts on 21st June with England playing their first match on 23rd against Iraq; the remainder of Group E comprises of Chile and Egypt.

Five of the 21-man England squad find themselves on the Everton books. The club academy is known for producing several talented youngsters over the years, though not all fulfill their potential, the players chosen are testament to the potential within the Goodison setup.

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Four of the five chosen for the tournament ought to be familiar to supporters. Ross Barkley is closest to a first team place, John Lundstram and Luke Garbutt boast successful loan spells at Football League clubs, and John Stones impressed at Barnsley prior to his transfer. Young forward Chris Long is the only relative unknown within the quintet.

Barkley burst onto the scene in August 2011, one of the few bright spots in a dismal opening day defeat to Queens Park Rangers. The local lad would have featured sooner if not for a multiple leg break in 2010.

However, despite the productive opening matches, a mistake away to Blackburn proved costly. Conceding a penalty, Barkley found himself hauled off just 53 minutes into the match. Seemingly showing his inexperience, the youngster did not start another league game in 2011-12.

After two loans in 2012-13, with Sheffield Wednesday substantially more productive than Leeds United, Barkley received two unexpected starts in the latter stages of the campaign. Trips to Tottenham and Arsenal provided a stern test for the midfielder; wasted out wide at Spurs, there was a noticeable improvement in a central position at the Emirates.

Somewhat inexplicably, Barkley found himself left out from then on and will look to realise his obvious potential in 2013-14. The midfield prospect can expect to feature with increasing regularity in 2013-14, as Leon Osman enters the twilight of his Everton career.

Although one year older than Barkley, Garbutt has found opportunities scarce since returning from an impressive spell at Cheltenham in 2011-12; in truth, that is due to having Leighton Baines as his rival for the left back spot. As new boss Roberto Martinez tends to rotate for cup-ties, Garbutt should hope for the occasional cup outing next season.

Recently turning 19, Lundstram has developed into a reserve team regular for Everton and the youngster is fresh from a praise-laden spell at Doncaster Rovers. Doncaster boss Brian Flynn had this to say of the midfielder during the loan spell, "John has a great variety of passing. He is hungry for the football and has no fear. He just wants the ball."

Highly rated, few would pay £3 million for a young defender in a struggling Championship side otherwise, Stones can play at right back or centre back; the defender is expected to mature into a central defender. Along with fellow reserve player Shane Duffy, the duo will hope for increased game time in the upcoming campaign.

Rounding off the five England hopefuls is young forward Long. After featuring for the Everton Under-18 side at 16, Long impressed in the U-18 side last season and crowned the season with a first goal for the U-21 side. The youngster also picked up the Academy player of the year award at the end of season ceremony.

As well as those mentioned above, the talented Francisco Junior has impressed despite being cast aside after the Carling Cup debacle at Leeds United. Given the recent comments from Martinez, "we need to work together as a football club and put a lot of focus on trying to give youngsters an opportunity", the youth at Everton should expect more of a chance next season.

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