Young Player nominees suggest a lack of trust in youth

Posted by Luke O'Farrell

ANDREW YATES/AFP/Getty ImagesNamed last year's Young Player of the Season award winner for Everton, Apostolos Vellios has had a disappointing campaign this season with just six appearances.

As the season ticks towards conclusion, the awards season nears. Voting opened this week and the eighth annual End of Season awards will take place on 16th May. Starting this week, Everton supporters are invited to use the club website to choose their Player, Young Player and Goal of the Season.

Any player with a first team appearance qualifies for the player award while the young player criteria is any player under 23 with a first team outing. Completing the awards is best goal and former forward Graeme Sharp provides 12 options for supporters in this award.

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Currently leading the best player race is the ever-consistent Leighton Baines (44%) followed by Marouane Fellaini (20%) and Leon Osman (10%). Unsurprisingly, Baines also heads the goal category for his missile-guided free kick at Newcastle (36%). Recent strikes from Leon Osman (23%) and Kevin Mirallas (16%) complete the top three.

The final award is the young player award. At present, Bryan Oviedo (36%) leads recent loanee Ross Barkley (27%) with Apostolos Vellios in third (18%). Currently third in the running, Vellios won the young player award last season after a series of promising performances. Unfortunately, while not entirely his fault, his progress has stalled this season.

Impressing in the early stages of last season, Vellios scored three goals and displayed plenty of promise. After winning the young player award, Vellios said, "It has given me more confidence for the future. It was a good season for me, but I think I have many surprises for next season."

However, impressive as it was, his young player award does not tell the full story. Failing to make a first team appearance beyond February, the sporadic use has continued throughout the current campaign. Without a start this season, the Greek youngster has only six substitute appearances to his name.

Impressing when given a chance, the lack of action is somewhat baffling especially considering the indifferent form shown by Nikica Jelavic this term. Glancing at the bigger picture, the lack of faith in the younger players spreads throughout the squad.

The young player award has seven nominees this season and the number suggests a wide variety of choice. However, upon closer inspection, the reality is much different and supporters face an arduous task. The criminally underused Oviedo has featured most, but the Costa Rican can only point to three starts this season.

Impressing on his sporadic outings, Oviedo has shown glimpses of his potential. Continually overlooked, with Moyes favouring the industrious Steven Naismith, the lack of action is bizarre. While possessing a goal threat, it is abundantly clear that Naismith is not a midfielder and Oviedo warrants his chance.

Elsewhere, four of the remaining candidates are yet to start a match this season. The final two candidates are Francisco Junior; his sole appearance was 45 minutes in the dismal defeat at Leeds, and Magaye Gueye; the French youngster has been on loan to Stade Brestois since January.

Along with Vellios, the other players touted to make the breakthrough, Barkley and Shane Duffy, have found themselves making fewer appearances this season. Barkley spent a productive period on loan earlier in the season. Nevertheless, especially since the club made the decision to recall Barkley, the youngster has barely featured.

The statistics contradict the notion that Moyes gives youth a chance. The scant use of players under 23 points towards the overuse of experienced players. Using the fewest players in the Premier League this season, the long season is visibly wearing a number of established players into the ground.

Aside from Wayne Rooney, easily the best player to advance from the club academy, few younger players could point to receiving a chance on merit. The young players tend to find playing time as a last resort when all the remaining options are exhausted.

The other side of the argument is quality. Supporters may claim the younger players lack the necessary ability, but, without the chance to prove otherwise, the constant bench-warming is helping nobody. Given the largely disappointing performances of several established players, and the promising but limited cameos from the likes of Oviedo and Vellios, the younger players have warranted more of a chance than the one given.

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