Today marks David Moyes' 11-year anniversary at Goodison. The third-longest serving manager in the Premier League has built up quite a reputation of giving young prospects an opportunity in the big time. However, after a dip in form since the turn of the year, is it now time to introduce his young guns to kickstart an underwhelming 2013?
The loss of form to key senior players coinciding with the recent successes of the U21 squad - who now sit on top spot after this week's 1-0 away win at Chelsea, has been a combination that hasn't gone unnoticed by fans. Particularly this week, rumblings of concern have grown as to why some of the Blues' young stars have not being given a chance to shine this season.
20-year-old striker Conor McAleny has now found the back of the net 6 times in as many games since his return from injury and his striker partner Apostolos Vellios has also been a regular on the score sheet for both club and the Greece U21s. On the other hand there is the goal-shy Nikica Jelavic, who has frankly found it difficult to rekindle the fine form he showed last season. Since signing from Rangers in January 2012, the Croatian netted 11 times in just 16 appearances, a record which left him Everton's top goalscorer for the 2011/12 season. Things haven't been so easy this time around though and with only one league goal to his name since November, the youngsters must be scratching their heads as to when they will be given an opportunity to impress.
Arguably even more of a worry amongst Evertonians is Ross Barkley's lack of action this season. Since the freak accident which left Barkley with a triple-leg break on international duty 3 years ago, Moyes has been quick to point towards a lack of development in the period he missed. However, after receiving glowing reports whilst on loan spells at Sheffield Wednesday & Leeds this campaign, fans are more desperate than ever to see more of the Wavertree-born midfielder.
Barkley certainly appears to be the type of player Everton have been crying out for - granted he may be a little raw, but there is no doubting he is strong and skilful, with the ability to play a killer ball and shoot from distance. Frustrations have grown with the consistently poor Phil Neville and inconsistent Leon Osman this season, not to mention question marks over Marouane Fellaini's commitment to the club. Barkley could offer a freshness to what has become a very stale centre-midfield.
After the disastrous exit from the FA cup last weekend, and tough trips to Arsenal, Spurs, Chelsea and neighbours Liverpool on the horizon, many fans have raised concerns regarding the rest of the season. However, youth could prove to be the source of hunger and determination needed to give us one last boost going into the final ten games and keep alive any faint hopes of European Football next term. Mike Taylor. Follow Mike on twitter @mtaylor1878
This article is from Kings Of Goodison Blog