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Middlesbrough go head-to-head with Everton in battle to sign defender

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Everton and Middlesbrough are both interested in signing non-league sensation Josh Heaton, The Daily Mail reports.

Scouts were out in their numbers to run the rule over a selection of non-league players at Jamie Vardy’s V9 Academy and Heaton caught the eye.

The 21-year-old plays as a centre back for Darlington and gave assured performances at the back at the V9 Academy.

This has alerted the attention of Boro, who are aiming to bolster their youth ranks, but they face competition from Premier League side Everton.

Middlesbrough’s most promising young centre-half is Dael Fry, who has featured for the first-team this season and plays for England’s under-21 side, but they want a new young defender too.

Everton are renowned for poaching talent from the lower leagues, including Charlton Athletic’s Ademola Lookman and Sheffield United’s Dominic Calvert-Lewin in recent years.

According to this report, other players that impressed include 18-year-old defender Morgan Williams – who Coventry City have reportedly signed from Mickleover Sports – and Truro City striker Cody Cooke, 25, who has attracted interest from Portsmouth, Exeter City and Stevenage.

17-year-old Sam McCallum of Herne Bay is also expected to receive offers after impressing in the two outings.

The Verdict

There is a huge jump between where Darlington play (National League North) and Everton or Middlesbrough.

To bridge the gap between the sixth tier and the Premier League or Championship is a lot to ask a youngster and he will surely go into the academy team first.

But former Preston North End defender Heaton already offers first-team football and seems ready to make the step up into the Football League so perhaps a loan move to a League One or League Two club could work for Boro or Everton.

Boro fans – Would you like to sign Heaton? Let us know below…

NCTJ-qualified journalist - University of Birmingham undergraduate - King's College London postgraduate - Coventry City and West Ham United

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