Living up to potential

Jack Rodwell was a young developer and he appeared for the reserve team at the tender age of 15, but it has not all been plain sailing for the highly-rated youngster. The 20-year-old missed much of last season due to injury, but he has come into his own so far in the 2011/12 campaign following the summer departure of former Toffees fans' favourite Mikel Arteta to Arsenal. Over to Pete Thompson.

Jack Rodwell has started to realise his undoubted potential this season and the Everton midfielder has been rewarded with an England call-up.

Big things were expected of Rodwell when he burst onto the scene, making his Toffees debut as a substitute against AZ Alkmaar aged just 16 to become the youngest player to play for the club in Europe.

Rodwell was a young developer and he appeared for the reserve team at the tender age of 15, but it has not all been plain sailing for the highly-rated youngster.

The 20-year-old missed much of last season due to injury, but he has come into his own so far in the 2011/12 campaign following the summer departure of former Toffees fans' favourite Mikel Arteta to Arsenal.

The Toffees Academy graduate has put in some commanding displays for David Moyes' side and his form has caught the eye of England boss Fabio Capello.

Having represented his country at various different age groups, Rodwell has now progressed to the senior squad for international friendlies.

“I have played for England at every level apart from Under-20s, so I know what to expect,” he told everton.tv.

“I don't think it will be a shock, although the seniors will be a bit different. But I know people there and they will help me through.”

While it may not be a shock for Rodwell when he reports for international duty, the Everton youngster revealed he thought someone was playing a joke on him when the call from the Football Association came.

“It is a brilliant feeling,” he said. “I was just at home and a woman from the FA called me to confirm I was in the squad. At first I thought it was a prank but then I realised it wasn't.

“It was my childhood dream, so now I am over the moon. I'd heard rumours that I could be in the squad but I was hopeful more than anything.”

Birkdale-born Rodwell, a lifelong Everton fan, also benefits from being able to play in defence and has long been tipped to be an England regular for years to come.

Strong in the tackle with a good engine and the ability to chip in with a few goals, he was linked with Manchester United soon after being given his chance in the Everton first team by Moyes.

But he was handed a new five-year contract at the end of the 2009/10 season to ward off interest from potential suitors.

After a frustrating 2010/11 campaign, Rodwell reported back for pre-season training with a determination to establish himself as a mainstay in the Everton midfield.

And he has done just that, with some assured performances in an Everton side that has struggled to get going in the English Premier League.

Rodwell has relished the responsibility of filling the void left by Arteta and his Toffees team-mate Phil Jagielka, who is also in Capello's England squad, has been hugely impressed with the impact he has made.

“We have said with Mikel leaving and us being short of numbers in the middle it was time for Jack to step up and he has been fantastic since he has done so,” Jagielka told everton.tv.

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