Scouting Report: Will Everton's new Hope be the next Rooney or Jeffers?
With graduates such as Wayne Rooney, Francis Jeffers, James Vaughan and Victor Anichebe, Everton's academy is well respected for producing promising young strikers.
It's something that has not gone unnoticed by some of England's leading lights in recent years, with Manchester United and Arsenal splashing out big money on the emerging talent of Rooney and Jeffers. The two may have ended up at different ends of the footballing scale, but they were both trained to the high standards that academy manager Ray Hall expects.
The latest striker out of Hall's famed classroom, Hallam Hope, has been schooled in a similar way. Yet based on early evidence, the Manchester-born front-man looks set to be more Rooney than Jeffers.
Hope joined Everton aged 11 after a short spell at Manchester City. He quickly rose through the ranks, earning a reputation as a powerful and hard working forward who found goals easy to come by. Naturally, comparisons followed, with many believing Hallam was a mixture between the tenacious Rooney, and the 'fox in the box' Jeffers. Both seemed unfair.
The youngster announced himself to many after scoring a hat-trick against Watford in the final of the 2008 Milk Cup. A year later, he was selected for the England Under 16 squad for the Sky Sports Victory Shield. A brace on his debut against Wales aided the Young Lions' cause en route to winning the tournament. Hope has since taken the international baton and ran with it, stepping up to the Under 17's where he currently has 10 goals from 10 matches (two of which came against Portugal last summer and can be seen in the video below).
A strong, energetic, instinctive finisher, the only real question mark is over HopeÃ¢ÂÂs ability in the air. While not the smallest, he lacks some of the physical presence of recent graduates Vaughan and Anichebe. That said, Hallam did bag the winner in last weekendÃ¢ÂÂs youth team match against Sheffield United with his head. It is something the player himself has also picked up on, showing he clearly isn't resting on his already impressive laurels.
Everton instil a confident but determined nature in their prospects, and Hope is no different. That level-headedness combined with an undoubted ability to score goals, put Hallam Hope in line to be the next front man off their already impressive production line.