Everton are flying in the Premier League this season, with Dominic Calvert-Lewin firing the Goodison Park natives to an unbeaten record that earned the forward his England debut against Wales earlier this month.
No one has currently struck home more often in the top-flight than the 23-year-old, with Tottenham Hotspur’s Heung-Min Son the only other player than Calvert-Lewin to have scored seven goals over the opening five matchdays.
Everton’s future in attack now seems nailed on with the forward valued at £80million this summer amid interest from Manchester United. This, only just a year after apparent calls from supporters to ditch Calvert-Lewin after yet more “frustrating” performances that offered “zero technical ability”.
Calvert-Lewin’s path to success certainly took time to develop on Merseyside, with the former Sheffield United forward offering just 11 goals over his first three Premier League seasons before a breakthrough haul of 13 last term.
And now, Everton may have their next Calvert-Lewin waiting in line already, too, after Under 23s prospect Ellis Simms showed great signs of progress against Manchester United on Friday night when fielded against 2014 World Cup finalist Marcos Rojo.
Everton U23s boss David Unsworth has previously hailed Simms for being a great prospect with brilliant talent for his age, telling the Blues’ official website after the striker scored a 90th-minute match-winner against Watford back in February: “He was absolutely superb.
“His hold-up play, his threat, his power and his link-up play were exceptional. The stuff we’ve worked with him on since pre-season, he is now bringing into this game and I am so proud of him. When you apply yourself the way that Ellis has you reap the rewards.”
Unsworth has refused to get too carried away with the 19-year-old’s progress, as well, telling the Liverpool Echo: “When balls are thread through to him, there’s nobody better. We know that and he’s top-class at that and his finishing is fantastic.
“There’s a lot of things we know, warts-and-all, that people don’t see. People see Ellis Simms scored two goals and expect him to be in our first-team. It’s a long way off but it’s not something he can’t do.”
Simms’ performance against Manchester United’s U23s on Friday night will certainly be one that causes key figures at Finch Farm to sit up and pay attention. The Liverpool Echo noted shades of Calvert-Lewin from 18-months ago by using his enthusiasm to shrug off the experience Rojo boasts and score the Blues’ only goal of the night.
But the 19-year-old Simms’ inexperience was also on show – keeping in line with Unsworth’s calls for patience – as he opted to round another defender before shooting when United ‘keeper Ondrej Mastny left the goal wide open, a decision which allowed Brandon Williams to recover and clear the ball away on the goal line.
But Carlo Ancelotti will have been left with plenty of food for thought, as Everton decided to keep Simms at Finch Farm this summer to develop his game like the Blues did with Calvert-Lewin, and decide in January whether or not a loan move would be best for the talented youngster.
Further performances like his against Manchester United will show Ancelotti that Simms is on the right path, and a successful loan come the winter market could be what takes the striker beyond the U23s and into the first-team in the not too distant future.
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