By the end of the January transfer window, Everton’s under-23s defensive line might look a little different.

At the age of 26, Matthew Pennington will likely want to play regular first-team football elsewhere. In October, the Liverpool ECHO reported that both Ryan Astley and Con Ouzounidis had received loan interest from elsewhere.

So it could be that someone needs to step up from Everton’s under-18s to play regular football with David Unsworth’s side.

Everton v Liverpool: U18 Premier League
Photo by Nick Taylor/Liverpool FC/Liverpool FC via Getty Images

Which would surely see Reece Welch get his chance.

The England youth international turned 17 in September and celebrated by signing his first professional deal with Everton, tying him to the club until 2023.

A ball-playing defender with impressive pace, it is no wonder he bases his game on that of Real Madrid’s World Cup winning centre-back Raphael Varane.

Between himself, Sebastian Kristensen and Elijah Campbell, Welch is the one who looks best suited to make this jump should Unsworth see some of his regulars head out on loan next month. 

It won’t be ahead of his time either. Welch has serious potential and Everton fans will hope the comparisons to Varane end up being more than just hyperbole.