Everton's production line of promising young players is still working at full capacity with the emergence of talented midfielder Ross Barkley giving the blue half of Merseyside at least one reason to be cheerful this summer.
While the Toffees' financial constraints leave manager David Moyes in a difficult position when it comes to strengthening the squad with the addition of new players, the club will strive to keep hold of what they already have - and look to unearth homegrown stars of their own.
Like Wayne Rooney and more recently Jack Rodwell, Barkley's promise has been heralded for some time, but the murmurs surrounding this 17-year-old starlet have rarely been greater.
After suffering an injury setback last year which delayed his progression, Barkley has arrived properly on the scene for Everton this pre-season, and wasted no time in showcasing his potential on the club's recent tour of America.
Barkley followed up his impressive performance against DC United with an equally tantalising display in Everton's 1-0 defeat to Werder Bremen, and Blues defender Tony Hibbert spoke positively about the teenager’s form.
"He went to America and the lads told me how good he was over there even though he's coming back from such a big injury," said Hibbert. "But against Bremen and from what I've seen in training he is a really bright lad.
"Football wise I think you couldn't ask for any more from him, and he's young and eager to work. It's easy to forget he's 17 and people shouldn't get carried away saying he's the next big thing."
Hibbert's views were echoed by fellow defender and relative veteran Sylvain Distin who, at 34 is twice the age of the up and coming Barkley.
"He's good in training and he's doing well during the game and he's exactly what we need, some fresh blood like that to just come in and make me feel a bit older and just give something a bit different to the squad.
"He can be a great player but we've got a few more players like that, and that's good news for the club."
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