A talent going waste?

Jack Rodwell’s career began at Everton as a seven-year-old where he came through the ranks of the academy, playing often as a centre-half and impressing at every level until making his first appearance in the reserves when he was just 15. By Thomas Pyman.

Regular game time is a cornerstone of a young player’s development and, after a tricky couple of years at Manchester City, Jack Rodwell is now looking to get his career back on track following his summer move to Sunderland.

Rodwell featured sparingly for the English Premier League champions and the potential he showed at boyhood club Everton as a teenager was in danger of going to waste as he spent most of his time warming the bench at the Etihad Stadium.

It was in stark contrast to his career previously and highlighted the potential pitfalls when promising young talents are snapped up by the richest clubs.

His career began at Everton as a seven-year-old where he came through the ranks of the academy, playing often as a centre-half and impressing at every level until making his first appearance in the reserves when he was just 15.

Rodwell then broke a senior record by becoming the youngest player to represent Everton in Europe when making his first-team debut as a substitute against AZ Alkmaar aged 16 years and 284 days. His Premier League bow came soon after in March 2008, before scoring his first competitive goal for the club against future employers Sunderland.

He was quickly becoming a fans’ favourite and signed a five-year contract the following season after making his first Premier League start. By 2009, Rodwell was a regular in the Everton line-up and scored a crucial goal against then champions Manchester United in a famous 3-1 win at Goodison Park.

Rodwell had begun to establish himself more as a midfielder as time went on, with his energy and composure on the ball winning him plenty of admirers, with some thinking he could play even further up the pitch than just as a defensive midfielder.

By the end of the 2009/10 season he had racked up an impressive 36 appearances, scoring four times, and carried his good form into the next season where he played another 28 games, finding the net once.

In 2011 he was controversially sent off for a challenge on Luis Suarez in a Merseyside derby, which manager at the time David Moyes felt ruined a match that Liverpool went on to win 2-0.

Rodwell's ban was rescinded and he continued to play an important role for Everton, winning his first England cap in the process. He made his senior debut in November, coming on as a substitute in a friendly with Spain, and started his first game for his country three days later against Sweden.

Rodwell finished the 2011/12 season with two goals in 14 league games after struggling with injury problems but moved to Manchester City that summer for around GBP12million, making his debut against Southampton in August.

Injuries struck again though, and after being out of action between October and January, he found himself well down the pecking order once he returned to fitness. He scored his first and only goal for the club in a 3-2 defeat to Norwich City on the final day of the season as City relinquished their Premier League title to rivals Manchester United.

Rodwell’s appearances in sky blue the following season were even more infrequent, as he played just 10 games in total, most of which were brief cameos from the bench.

A much-needed move came earlier this year when he left City after starting just seven games and moved for a fee of GBP10 million to Sunderland, where he signed a five-year contract. He then scored his first goal for the Black Cats in a 1-1 draw against Manchester United at the Stadium of Light.

Rodwell was one of the most promising talents in England during his time at Everton but has since seen his progress stall dramatically.

With a regular spot in the Sunderland midfield, he will be looking to return to the form he consistently showed at Goodison Park and return to the England reckoning.

Rodwell married Alana Licate in 2013. FACTFILE Name: Jack Rodwell Position: Midfielder DOB: 11/03/91 Club: Sunderland International caps: 3

Moment to remember: Scoring his first Premier League goal in Everton's 3-1 win over Manchester United.

Moment to forget: Being sent off in a Merseyside derby against Liverpool in 2011.

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