Having struggled to find form since his permanent move from Tottenham last summer, Everton’s flying winger Aaron Lennon has been in great form in 2016.
The 28-year-old has been given a run of games by his manager, Roberto Martinez, since the turn of the year and he has repaid the faith shown in him with Man of the Match performances in his recent matches.
The upturn in form could be down to the competition for places on the wings at Everton; with the likes of Ross Barkley, Gerard Deulofeu, Tom Cleverley and Arouna Kone all vying for the same position.
Does his form mean he could be a dark horse to make Roy Hodgson’s squad for Euro 2016? Shoot takes a closer look at the Everton star.
Where did it all start for Lennon?
Born in Chapeltown, Leeds, Lennon joined the Leeds academy aged 14 and he rose to prominence in 2003, when he became the then youngest ever player to play in the Premier League, appearing for Whites in their last season in the top division, aged just 16 years and 128 days old. He was voted the Young Player of the year at Leeds.
His potential at such a young age prompted Tottenham to snap him up for a cut-price £1million due to Leeds’ financial problems, and he made an immediate impact as he made 29 appearances in his first season. His potential led to him being a surprise inclusion in Sven-Goran Eriksson’s 2006 World Cup team, where he featured three times.
What happened next?
Following his learning curve of a first season, Lennon progressed even further in the 2006/07 season, as he became a vital part of Spurs’ team making 43 appearances, scoring the winner in Tottenham’s first victory over Chelsea in 26 years. His impressive form was recognised by his fellow professionals as he was nominated for the PFA Young Player of the Year award alongside Wayne Rooney, and eventual winner, Cristiano Ronaldo.
He then put pen-to-paper on a new five-and-a-half year contract in 2007, highlighting his importance to Tottenham, despite still being just 19 at the time. Lennon was part of a growing Spurs side, and this was demonstrated by their Carling Cup win over Chelsea in 2008, to date, Lennon’s only winners’ medal.
He received more personal honours at Tottenham, as he was voted both the Young Player and Player of the Year at Spurs in the 2008/09 season but arguably his best two years for the Lilliwhites came in the 2010 and 2011, as he was an important member of the team who reached the Champions League Quarter-Final, after Spurs had finished fourth the previous year.
Why did he move to Everton?
However, despite his 10-year history with Tottenham, he fell out of favour under current manager Mauricio Pochettino, and he joined Roberto Martinez’s side initially on a loan deal in January 2015. Lennon impressed at the tail-end of the 2014/15 season, scoring twice in 14 games for the Toffees. His form was rewarded with a permanent transfer last summer for approximately £4million.
This season Lennon had initially struggled, and he had almost become a forgotten man, but the turn of the year has seen the wide-man roll back the years, as he has scored in his last three games in succession as Everton try to climb up the table after some stuttering results.
Roy Hodgson was in attendance for Everton’s one-sided victory over Stoke City on Saturday, where Lennon played a starring role, and it has raised questions whether he can force his way back into the National team prior to the European Championships in France this summer.
Can he make the England squad?
It looks like a difficult task, with Hodgson being a manager who is faithful to those who have performed well for England in previous Internationals, and with the emergence of younger players in forward areas, such as Dele Alli and Jesse Lingard recently getting call-ups, Lennon’s form may have come too late.
Having last featured for the Three Lions in 2013, he will need to keep up his impressive 2016 form to force his way into Roy Hodgson’s thinking.