Everton legend on 'paramount' importance of youth stars

Everton Logo at Goodison Park

Everton legend Duncan Ferguson has explained the "paramount" importance of blooding young stars in the first team at Goodison Park.

Despite being unable to compete financially with their Champions League-chasing rivals, Everton have consistently hovered in and around the top four of the Premier League.

In his debut season last term, manager Roberto Martinez utilised the loan market to sublime effect with Romelu Lukakau, Gareth Barry and Gerard Deulofeu all becoming integral members of the squad.

Deulofeu has since returned to Barcelona, while the Toffees continue to try and negotiate a move for Belgium striker Lukaku, with Chelsea said to be asking in excess of £20million for the muscular forward.

As well as the loan moves, Martinez also enjoyed success when promoting from within with the likes of Ross Barkley and John Stones also becoming important players for the Goodison Park side last year.

Stones, a David Moyes signing, was given his Everton bow under Martinez last year, and the young defender flourished as he finished the season as part of England's 30-man contingent for pre-World Cup friendlies.

Barkley was given his debut by Moyes back in 2011 before loan spells with Sheffield Wednesday and Leeds United, and but it was under the Martinez that the youngster began to see his evident potential come to the fore.

Speaking to the club's official website, Ferguson, who works as part of the Blues' youth set-up, believes that the continued development of young players is key to Everton's on-field growth, given their lack of financial clout.

The 42-year-old said: "Promoting from within and trying to get the youth through [is paramount]. That's what the club is all about isn't it?

"I've been really pleased with them. They've done really, really well [during pre-season]. "Being back with the first team, it's brought back the memories, but it's all changed now as well. The ball comes out a lot quicker than it used to!

"It's been enjoyable though, it's great to be back and it's good to be working with the lads."

Which of Everton's young players do you think will break through next season?

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