Ian Doyle looks ahead to tonight's clash at Goodison Park
The end, it would seem, is nigh. A week during which the future direction of British football has once again been fiercely debated has prompted the harbingers of doom to begin penning premature obituaries.
Too much, too young, too soon would appear the overriding consensus as the Premier League grapples with how best to prevent promising homegrown talent from dropping off the radar.
However, Goodison this evening will discover why not all hope should be lost.
James McCarthy takes the next step on his refreshingly unorthodox route to the top by, fitness permitting, stepping out for his Everton debut following his £13million transfer from Wigan Athletic on transfer deadline day earlier this month.
McCarthy was always destined for Merseyside. But many were surprised his arrival hadn’t come earlier.
As a 16-year-old, the midfielder’s performances for Hamilton Academical in Scotland had already caught the eye of Liverpool, who invited the youngster to Melwood for a week’s trial. Sufficiently impressed, a deal was then tabled.
McCarthy, though, said no, eschewing the obvious financial benefits to instead continue learning his trade with regular first-team football with his local club.
It worked. And via a four-year spell at Wigan during which he was a key part of their FA Cup-winning campaign, McCarthy has now found himself on the other side of Stanley Park.
“I made my debut for Hamilton when I was 15,” he says. “A few months later, when I was 16, I went down for a week’s trial at Liverpool.
“I had a trial at Reading as well, but just the way things were at home, I just wanted to keep learning my trade with Hamilton and get some first-team games.
“I’m thankful I did because it worked out really well. The way it’s gone, I’m really happy with how my career has developed.
“Liverpool were going to sign me, they wanted to try and do a deal, but at the time it wasn’t right for me. Liverpool were fine about it when I didn’t sign. I was still so young and they understood I wanted to learn my trade back home.”
Not for McCarthy the shortcut to success that has been cited as the reason for so many English youngsters being unable to make the leap from successful youth player to first-team regular.
And the midfielder, who represents the Republic of Ireland due to family links through his grandparents, believes his career has benefited as a result of regular exposure to competitive action.
“Some people see the money side of things and they want to go and earn the money,” he says. “At that time, I wanted to play first-team football.
“It can be difficult for some people to turn down the money, but at that age, I didn't want to move away from home. I was just happy to be playing at Hamilton with mates who were there as well.
“You look at other players moving for such big money. They don't enjoy it and end up going out on loan.
“It's one of those things. It can work out well for you or it can't. I'm just delighted the way it worked out for me.”
After a move to Celtic failed to transpire, McCarthy opted to make the move south of the border – thanks to a gentle shove in the direction of the DW Stadium.
“At 18, I was still thinking to myself 'I wouldn't mind another year at Hamilton',” says McCarthy, now 22. “Thankfully my agent and my family pushed me.
“They wanted me to try and adapt to life down here and thankfully I made that choice and I'm delighted to be here.”
Family has played a big part in McCarthy’s upbringing, a fact he recognised by buying his parents a new house shortly after his move to the Premier League.
“My family has always been there to support me and when I first went to Wigan they were always coming down to see I’d settled in,” he adds.
“We’re a very close family.
“As a young boy, they were always telling me to use both feet and to work on this and that.
“When I was at Wigan I bought my parents a house back up the road. It's for the family and a thank you for them to be honest for what they have done for me.
“I'm still in huge debt for everything they have done for me.”
McCarthy recalls: “Where I was brought up there was a pitch right across the road and I was always on that kicking a ball about. The pitch is still there.
“Then I went to Hamilton and you’ve seen a few players coming through their youth system. It’s a very, very good club for any young kid going there to learn their trade.
“Billy Reid was there as manager at the time and was different class to me, and the chairman Ronnie MacDonald was brilliant too. I’m thankful to them for the way they kept pushing me, and thankfully I got to the Premier League, because it’s such a great league to play in. “
Back in 2009, Wigan weren’t the only club considering a move for McCarthy, whose mind was ultimately made up by both the presence of current Everton assistant manager Graeme Jones – who had held a similar position at Hamilton – and the persuasive powers of Martinez.
“It was Wigan or Wolves,” he says. “I went and saw Wolves and had a medical and stuff. Then I spoke to Graeme Jones and then spoke to the gaffer (Martinez), and there was no going back. I wanted to play under him.
“It was just the way he spoke to me. Everything he told me, I was happy hearing. It was a good club to be at at that particular time and it wasn't too far from home.
“And Wigan was closer than Wolves! I just wanted to get home as much as I could.
“I enjoyed playing at Wigan, I settled in well there, and the way the gaffer was playing suited me.
“I’m delighted to get 100 odd Premier League games under my belt for them and now looking forward to the next chapter in my life at such a big club as Everton.”