A strong, composed defender with impressive quality on the ball, Wales Under-21s international Ryan Astley is a player with considerable potential.
He made his debut for the Blues’ Under-21s team in March 2018 at just 16, turning in what then-manager David Unsworth described as a “magnificent performance” in a Premier League 2 clash at Sunderland.
The 2018/19 campaign saw Astley - who primarily operates as a centre-half but is also comfortable at full-back - emerge as a regular in Unsworth’s squad. He featured in each of the young Blues' final 10 matches of the season as they soared to Premier League title glory.
He also helped the Under-21s complete a trophy double as they lifted the Premier League Cup with a 1-0 victory over Newcastle United in the final at Goodison Park.
Astley continued to impress for Everton Under-21s in 2019/20, playing 14 of their 18 Premier League 2 matches before the season ended early due to the coronavirus pandemic.
The Welshman enjoyed a terrific 2020/21, playing 16 games in Premier League 2 and claiming Everton's Under-21s Player of the Season award, Unsworth reasoning Astley was the "most consistent, outstanding player… a consummate professional and pleasure to work with".
Astley's development was noted at senior level, too, with the player included in the matchday squad for a Premier League victory over Southampton on 1 March.
His impressive progress was rewarded with a new two-year contract, which he signed in July 2021.
Astley's growing status with Everton Under-21s was underlined as he regularly captained the side in the 2021/22 season. He played 23 of the young Blues' 26 Premier League 2 matches.
The campaign also saw Astley become a fixture in the Wales Under-21 team as he started four consecutive Under-21s European Championship qualifiers for his country.
Astley made a loan move to Accrington Stanley in July 2022 and made his professional debut on August 6 2022, appearing as a substitute.
Across the season, he made 32 appearances, including 23 in League One and three in the FA Cup. Astley also chipped in with four goals during the campaign.