Everton Academy graduate Matthew Pennington signed professional terms with the Goodison Park outfit in July 2013, agreeing a two-year deal with the club after seven years’ progression through the Toffees’ youth set-up.
The 18-year-old defender was a mainstay in the U18s during the 2012/13 season and also featured nine times for the Blues U21s side.
A versatile defender equally adaptable playing in central defence and at right-back, he gained his first taste of senior football in January 2014 when he joined Tranmere Rovers on a month’s loan and had a second temporary spell at Prenton Park later in the season. In total, he made 17 appearances – all of which came in League One.
He then impressed on loan at Coventry City in 2014/15 as he became established in his more natural centre-back position. He went on to win the Sky Blues’ Young Player of the Year award having made 25 appearances for the League One club in all competitions.
Pennington’s progress was rewarded when he made his senior Toffees debut in August 2015 in a League Cup victory at Barnsley. After his Everton debut at Oakwell, he suffered an ankle injury which temporarily halted his progress.
After returning to fitness, he featured against Dagenham & Redbridge in the FA Cup in January 2016 before joining Walsall on loan until the end of the season in March. However, he was recalled to Goodison Park after five appearances as Everton sought defensive reinforcements towards the end of the campaign.
Pennington adapted comfortably to the demands of the English top-flight and earned man-of-the-match honours for his display in a 2-1 home victory over Bournemouth in April 2016 – his first Premier League appearance – before going on to start the following three games against Leicester City, Sunderland and Norwich City.
He played an important role for the U23s in 2016/17 as the young Blues were crowned inaugural Premier League 2 champions whilst also featuring three times at first-team level in the same season, the first of which saw him score a maiden senior goal against Liverpool at Anfield.
Warrington-born Pennington was part of the Everton squad which made the groundbreaking trip to Tanzania in summer 2017 and, just days after returning from Africa, he joined Leeds United on a season-long loan ahead of the 2017/18 campaign. He played 24 times in the Championship for the Elland Road club and following his stay in Yorkshire signed a new deal with Everton to tie him to Goodison Park until at least summer 2021.
In August 2018, he was on the move once again as he joined Ipswich Town on loan for the duration of the 2018/19 campaign, in which he made a Toal of 30 appearances – all of which came in the second tier of English football – scoring once.
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