Tom Cannon joined Everton aged 10 and was 18 when he signed his first
professional contract in March 2021. A Republic of Ireland youth
international, he made his Everton Under-18 debut aged 16 and scored on
his second appearance at that level in April 2019.
The curtailed 2019-20 campaign yielded 16 goals in as many games – 13
starts – including four in a 10-0 demolition of Sunderland.
Cannon was formidable again the following season. He scored at a rate
of a goal every other game in 20 Under-18 appearances, while steadily
being introduced to Under-23 football by manager David Unsworth. There were 13 appearances from the bench and one start for the
older-age team, Cannon netting twice, in addition to an ever-present
role in Everton's run to the FA Youth Cup quarter-finals.
initially agreed to a 2-year deal that ran until June 2023. At the end of
the season, he was
chosen by coaches and staff to receive the Tony Heslop Award, which
honours a player who “represents The People’s Club with distinction and
passion”, at the 2020-21 Academy Awards.
It was expected that Cannon would perhaps step up to the first team
during the 2021-22 season but he played only for the U23s. Neither
Rafael Benitez nor Frank Lampard felt he was ready for a senior run out and he ended the season as top scorer for the
U23s with 9 goals.
His progress and the faith the club had in him to eventually make the step up
to the first team were reflected in the new 3-year contract he signed in August 2022
– just 2 days after he scored both goals for the U21s in a 2-2 draw with Manchester United.
And as Dominic Calvert-Lewin continued to struggle for fitness and Everton failed to land any striker during the summer of 2022 other than the ultimately ill-suited Neal Maupay, Cannon
contined his scoring record with the newly branded Under-21s into the
2022-23 season. His first chance to make the step up to senior level arrived under Frank Lampard, who gave him outings in the League Cup at Bournemouth and in the Premier League against the same opposition a few days later.
However, it was felt that a loan in the Championship was a better option for his development than in the struggling Everton side and he joined Preston North End during the January 2023 transfer window. He played 20 games at Deepdale, scored eight goals and broke into the Republic of Ireland Under-21s side, suggesting that he was on track to be an option for the Toffees in 2023-24.
With Lampard's replacement, Sean Dyche, seemingly unconvinced that Cannon had what it took to lead the line at Goodison, the Academy product was eventually sold to Leicester City in a deal worth up to £7.5M just before the summer transfer deadline.
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