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Matthew Pennington 38

Everton Academy graduate Matthew Pennington signed professional papers in July 2013, agreeing a two-year deal with the club after seven years' progression through the youth setup. The 18-year-old defender was a mainstay in the U18s during the 2012-13 season and also featured nine times for the Blues U21s side.

“I'm very proud to have got this contract,” Pennington told evertontv. “Starting off at 11 years old, I've come all this way to 18 now and I'm only just at the start of my career. It's great that I can have a chance to kick on and I think that's the idea of this contract.

“Now I have got to prove myself as a player in the real world. Hopefully I can make a career in the game and push on."

Described by the Everton official website as "a versatile defender... equally adaptable playing in central defence and at right-back," Pennington has also played for England at U19 level. As with most promising players, he was sent out on loan as the plan for his subsequent development evolved, with spells at Tranmere Rovers and then Coventry City.

Pennington joined Tranmere Rovers on a one month's loan deal in January 2014 that was extended until he was recalled by Everton to strengthen their Under-21 squad but he rejoined Rovers in March and remained on loan at Prenton Park until the end of the 2013-14 season.

He would spend the majority of the following season on loan at  Coventry City  where he was voted as the club's player of the month in January 2015 as he became established in his more natural centre-back position. He went on to win the Sky Blues' Young Player of the Year award having made 25 appearances for the League One club.  In July 2015, he was rewarded with a new 3-year deal at Everton.

Pennington made his anticipated first-team debut in a Capital One League Cup second round tie at Barnsley where he acquitted himself well at right back in place of Seamus Coleman, who was rested, but he was sacrificed at half-time as manager Roberto Martinez made changes to claw back a 2-0 deficit. Later, he would replace Argentine Ramiro Funes Mori just before half time in the Blues’ Third Round FA Cup win over Dagenham and Redbridge.

After spending much of 2015-16 playing for Everton U21s, Matthew Pennington joined Walsall on loan until the end of the season, beating the 5pm loan transfer deadline on 24 March to sign for the Saddlers. This gave him the chance to gain more first-team experience in League One.   He was recalled after 28 days, however, when the Everton first-team defence was hit by injuries ahead of the FA Cup Semi-Final against Manchester United and went on to get his Premier League debut against Bournemouth before saluting the new Champions at Leicester City. 

New manager Ronald Koeman gave Pennington a run-out in a couple of pre-season games but against Real Betis, after a good performance, he pulled up with a torn hamstring 12 minutes before the end and would miss a huge part of the new season, being out for several months in recovery.

When finally fit again, in April 2017, and Coleman out with a broken leg, Matty was dropped in the deep end at Anfield and was skinned by Coutinho for Liverpool's first goal. He came on against Man Utd in the space of three days but could only watch in horror as Ashley Williams gave away a daft last-minute penalty.  However, the reward was a 2-year contract extension and he played a full game in the win over Leicester, before sitting out the last six games on the bench. 

But hopes of making the step up into the first-team squad were squashed with the arrival of Michael Keane and,  in July 2017, Pennington agreed a full season loan at Leeds United in the Championship, his Number 38 jersey being warn by Matty Foulds in three Checkatrade Trophy games while he was away.

Pennington was out for two months with an ankle injury and it was reported that he struggled a bit after his return. However, the press gave him high marks for his performance against Bristol in October 2017. He would go on to play in the majority of games for Leeds United, making 15 starts and 9 sub appearances.

He returned to Everton and reclaimed the 38 shirt number that Matty Foulds wore while he was on loan, with Marco Silva running the rule over him at the senior squad pre-season training camp in Austria. However, he would sit out the ATV Irdning goalfest as the only unused sub. But he did get to play three halves of the seven pre-season friendly games.

It would not be enough, though, to show he had what was needed in the first-team squad and he was loaned out again, this time to Ipswich Town, his fifth spell in as many seasons.

Pennington would see a switch of managers as the Tractor Boys struggled to get off the foot of the Championship table. The 24-year-old defender was signed by ex-manager Paul Hurst but has received the stamp of approval from his successor, Paul Lambert, who has picked him for every one of his five league games in charge.

Talking in December, Pennington said: “I've never regretted the move because I've been playing games and I've enjoyed my time here, despite the results. It's a great club and I've been made to feel like part of the family here.”

Pennington has no idea what the future could hold when he returns to Goodison Park at the end of the season. But he admits he is reaching the stage of his career when he would like to make a permanent move.

“It would be nice to settle down somewhere,” he continued. “I’m 24 now and I’ve been out on loan five times, so I guess it’s getting to the time now where I need to find a club, settle down and kick on. It could be here but I don’t know.

“It’s just up to me to keep performing and playing games then we’ll see what happens. I don’t know what’s happening with Everton. I’ve had a phone call or two from them but nothing more than that.”  

FactFile

Squad number 38
Position Defender
Nationality English
Born 6 October 1994
Place of Birth Warrington
Height 6'-1" (1.85 m)
Signed Pro 1 July 2013
Joined from Everton Academy
Signed by Roberto Martinez
Transfer fee None
Contract duration 2 + 3 + 2 years
Contract expires June 2019
Full debut v Barnsley (A)
26 August 2015
   
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Everton Career

Season Squad No. League Apps (sub) League Goals Cup Apps (sub) Cup Goals Total Apps (sub) Total Goals
2013-14
38
0 (0)
0
0 (0)
0
0 (0)
0
2014-15
38
0 (0)
0
0 (0)
0
0 (0)
0
2015-16
38
4 (0)
0
1 (1)
0
5 (1)
0
2016-17
38
2 (1)
1
0 (0)
0
2 (1)
1
2017-18 NA* 0 (0) 0 0 (0) 0 0 (0) 0
2018-19 38* 0 (0) 0 0 (0) 0 0 (0) 0
  Totals 6 (1) 1 1 (1) 0 7 (2) 1
* On Season-long loan at Leeds United and then Ipswich Town
               

Loan Spells

Season Team League Apps Cup Apps League Goals Cup Goals
2013-14 Tranmere Rovers 17 (0) 0 (0) 2 0
2014-15 Coventry City 24 (0) 1 (0) 0 0
2015-16 Walsall 5 (0) 0 (0) 0 0
2017-18 Leeds United 15 (9) 1 (0) 0 0
2018-19 Ipswich Town 15 (0) 0 (0) 1 0

Development Stats

Season Team League Apps Cup Apps League Goals Cup Goals
2012-13 Under-18s  ?? (?)   ?  
2012-13 Under-21s 7 (3)   1  
2013-14 Under-21s 12 (0) 3 (0) 0 1
2014-15 Under-21s 6 (0) 1 (0) 1 0
2015-16 Under-21s 8 (0) 4(0) 0 0
2016-17 Under-23s 7 (0) 1 (0) 0 0
2017-18 Under-23s  0 (0) 0 (0) 0 0
2018-19 Under-23s  3 (0) 0 (0) 0 0

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