Jarrad Branthwaite boasts the technical attributes and robust temperament to flourish at the highest level and “without doubt” can be a future England international.
That’s the view of Branthwaite’s former manager Steven Pressley, who gave the defender his senior league debut at Carlisle United.
Former Scotland international Pressley also praised Branthwaite’s humility and intense work-ethic and explained why Everton provides an ideal environment for the centre-back to reach his potential.
Pressley gave Branthwaite his debut as a 17-year-old in a League Two clash with Plymouth Argyle in October 2019.
He went on to make 14 first-team appearances for Carlisle before moving to Everton in January.
“Jarrad was just 16 when I first saw him play but he immediately made a big impression on me,” Pressley told evertonfc.com.
“It was about three weeks into my tenure at Carlisle and he was playing in the second team.
“He had so many quality attributes to become a top player.
“On the back of that one game, I phoned the Director of Football to get him tied up on a longer-term contract, which we did within two or three days.
“From that moment on, he trained with the first-team every day.
“I told people he was a future England international.
“Not once from when I gave him his debut did I ever consider leaving him out again, because I felt his performances had been so strong.
“The truth is, I think he has got everything. He can pass the ball almost equally as good with both feet. He’s a terrific footballer.
“And If he continues to develop, then, without doubt, he can be an England player.”
Pictured: Steven Pressley during his time in charge at Carlisle
Branthwaite featured in Everton’s final four Premier League games of the 2019/20 season, having made his Blues debut against Wolves at Molineux in July.
He was named in Carlo Ancelotti’s starting line-up for the first time in a clash at Sheffield United and delivered an exemplary performance in a 1-0 Everton victory.
Pressley emphasised the importance of Branthwaite joining a club with a clear pathway to first-team football.
And the Scot outlined how Branthwaite’s physical development will see him become an even more well-rounded defender.
“The thing with Jarrad is, he is actually very, very quick,” added Pressley, who left Carlisle in November 2019.
“But, at the age of 16, his speed over the initial five or 10 yards had to improve because he had no power at that time.
“But because you could see he could run, you knew that aspect would come.
“He is now physically improving, he is getting stronger all the time, but that little bit more power will come in the next couple of years and that’s why there is a lot more improvement in him.
“And learning from a manager of Carlo Ancelotti’s experience… Well, he is under decent stewardship, I would say!
“The most important thing in Jarrad’s progression was that he went to a club that were actually serious about playing him, because I felt his development could be quick.
“Everton has proved to be a great move for him.
“I’ve watched him a few times and have exchanged quite a few messages with him.
“I’m chuffed for the kid and his family.”
Pressley pinpoints Branthwaite’s performance in a televised FA Cup clash Carlisle United played at non-league Dulwich Hamlet as one which reflected his maturity.
The Cumbrians won a high-octane encounter 4-1 and Pressley explained how the game tested the teenager “in the basics of defending”.
“It was a typical FA Cup game, they had big strikers, they put the ball down your throat and they asked questions,” said Pressley.
“He stood up to that really well.
“For one so young, his heading is very strong – and if you look a lot of young defenders these days, that heading quality is sometimes lacking.
“Jarrad is different in that respect. He is very strong in the air.
“He has got a very good temperament, too.
“He’s one that can make a mistake and he doesn’t let it affect him.
“Making errors is normal, especially for young defenders of his type, because he’s got such great footballing ability and always wants to play.
“In any situation where he made a mistake, I never, ever felt in that particular game or the following game, it affected him.
“That’s a real positive in a young player.”
Pictured: Branthwaite in action for Carlisle against Dulwich Hamlet
Everton boss Ancelotti has described Branthwaite as “a really humble guy” who has consistently shown “personality and character” in First-Team training sessions at USM Finch Farm and during his Premier League appearances.
The Italian’s comments mirror Pressley’s observations of the youngster.
"Jarrad was a joy to work with,” said Pressley, who won 32 caps for his country during a 19-year playing career that saw him represent Hearts, Rangers and Celtic.
“He never complained about doing additional work.
“From the moment Jarrad came under my wing, we focused a lot on his heading, and we moved onto his defensive ability and did extra sessions on those aspects.
“He comes from a great family and is a very down to earth lad, a very humble lad.
“He was very popular with the players.
“Even things like, when we used to travel to games - even though he was playing in the team at the time - he would always come down and ask the staff and the Chairman if we wanted tea or coffee made on the bus.
“These are important things in a young player. It’s important to stay grounded.”