Lewis Dobbin: Just How Good Is The Youngster?
After surviving back-to-back relegation battles by the skin of their teeth, Everton are making desperate efforts to escape another season of fear and mediocrity.
While the club diligently pursues quality in the transfer market, youth could yield hope. Lewis Dobbin eagerly eyes up a first-team place but just how ready is the young striker?
The most likely breakthrough star for Everton this season is Lewis Dobbin.
Born in Stoke, the 20-year-old striker joined the Everton Academy at the age of 11 where he has continually impressed.
He was named Under-18s Player of the Season in the 2019/20 season after scoring 11 times in 16 league games before scoring and assisting four goals in seven appearances the next season.
After sustaining an unfortunate knee injury, he returned in the 2021/22 season in fine form, scoring 10 goals in five games leading to a first-team call-up for a friendly against Manchester United, and eventually, his first senior competitive appearance as a substitute against Norwich City in the same season.
Dobbin has also been fairly prolific at international level, turning out for the U16s, U17s and U20s sides. In that time, he has played 20 matches and scored eight goals.
While his impressive goal-scoring may suggest he is an out-and-out striker, Dobbin possesses some real versatility which will be valuable to Everton in filling positions and squad depth.
Due to his pace, fast dribbling, central progression and arrival timing at the edge of the box, he is perfectly placed as a second striker. Sean Dyche relied heavily on this role last season through Abdoulaye Doucoure.
The only concern for Lewis Dobbin is his ball-striking and his ability to explode into the box upon receiving the ball.
These two qualities are paramount to the success of this role, and whilst Dobbin showed that he can dribble into the box by navigating tight areas during his academy days, he does find himself running into dead-ends at times and being forced backwards due to carrying the ball too far and trying to force his way into the box.
Left Wing/Right Wing
Another position he can play is left wing. Dobbin played on the left flank during his loan spell at Derby County, and even during his academy days, showed great left-winger attributes.
He is able to make quick runs through the half-space for long balls and through balls. He is also a right-footed dominant dribbler, meaning he likes to dribble at an angle on his right foot when coming through central areas or cutting inside from wide-left areas quite similar to Alex Iwobi.
This dribbling also allows him to run more direct when through on goal and when running behind the defence.
For this role, he needs to develop a great weight of pass on his final ball to play vertical passes into the box for overlapping runners.
In addition, his horizontal movement and movement of the ball are positive in that area of the pitch, and if he plays on the right wing, he has the pace to beat his opponent and create crossing opportunities or drive diagonally into the box to provide cut back passes from the touchline.
Is He Ready?
On versatility alone, Lewis Dobbin has big claims to a first-team spot, or at least to some significant contribution during the upcoming season.
Late runs beyond defensive lines, quick central progression of the ball and arrival timing at the edge of the box are Dobbin’s best qualities and fit Everton’s transition-based play very well.
There is some improvement to be had for the forward however and the 2023/24 Premier League season could be make or break for him.