Everton’s Fraser Hornby is aiming to be the latest in a long line of Scottish striker heroes to come out of Goodison Park. And the man already tagged as the new Duncan Ferguson thinks Scotland can shoot down England in tonight’s Toulon Tournament semi-final and go on to win it.
Hornby netted Scotland’s first goal of the tournament in a 1-1 draw with Togo and since then Scot Gemmill’s side have beaten and eliminated hosts France and South Korea.
That has set them up for a mouthwatering last-four clash against the Auld Enemy in Aubagne in a repeat of last season’s semi-final showdown, which England won 3-0.
The 18-year-old giant hitman has been earning rave reviews on Merseyside after he made his Everton debut this season in a Europa League game in Cyprus. With his physique, height, aerial ability and nationality, it is not hard to see whey he has already been compared with Everton legend Ferguson by their fans.
Ferguson is now a Goodison Park coach and Hornby, who was only converted into a striker last year after originally playing as a central midfielder, revealed he has been taking advice from the former Rangers, Dundee United and Scotland forward.
Hornby said: “Duncan’s a fantastic person to learn off. I’ve had the pleasure of training with the first team quite a lot over the last few months and he’s been really good with me.
“I think he understands that I’m still learning the position. So I’m taking all of his advice on board and hopefully it’ll make me a better player.
“I’ve got two sides to me. I’ve got a side to me off the pitch but when I go on it, it’s all business for me. I like to put myself about in the right way. But off the pitch, it’s important to have a balance of being calm before you cross that white line.
“You sense Duncan’s iconic status at Everton every day. He’s a massive legend down there. Even when you travel to away games, all the fans want pictures with him. When new managers have gone, he’s still around the place. Whenever a new gaffer comes in they know how much of a character he is for the club. It’s good to have a familiar face around the first team so it’s great that he’s staying.
“Everton have a history of Scottish strikers with Duncan, Graham Sharp and Andy Gray. And ultimately my aim is to be playing in Everton and Scotland’s first-team. So to have these figures who have done that is something that I hope I can emulate.
“The comparisons between myself and Duncan are nice. I can think of worse players to be compared to. If I can do what he did, I’ll be happy. I’ve always been in contact with Duncan since I signed at Everton. He knew I was in and around the Scottish youth teams, so he took me under his wing. He’s looked after me down there.
“The best bit of advice he’s given me is to always be in the box. Pundits often say about strikers that they’re in the best place at the right time. But, if you can get yourself into the best position all the time, you’ve got a better chance of scoring goals.”
Hornby will see a few familiar faces tonight in France with some of his Everton colleagues in the England squad. But he has formed an encouraging partnership with captain Oliver Burke, pictured, and he believes Scotland are good enough to win the Toulon Tournament.
He said: “I don’t see why we can’t go on and win the tournament now. There are four boys from Everton in the England squad, so it’ll be good to come up against them in the semi-final. They’re a good team.
“It’ll be great to test ourselves against them especially after their Under-20 side won the World Cup last year. They have a few boys from that group over here in Toulon. But we beat France in midweek, so why can’t we defeat England?
“It’s not very often you beat a time like France. It was the first time ever a Scottish youth team has done that, so it was an unbelievable achievement by the boys. It just shows the character this squad’s got. We believe we can beat anyone on our day.
“It’s great playing up there with a player like Oli, given the things he’s been doing for the last few years. I can learn off him and he’s a great player to have on the pitch with us. You can look to Oli at times you need him. We did that against France and South Korea and he managed to put the ball in the back of the net.”
Hornby admits he’s enjoying his new role as a striker and the physical battle that goes with it.
He said: “It’s not every day that I come up against boys who are bigger than me but that was the case against France. It was a good challenge for me. I’m going to have to learn with different situations and that was one of them. I’m still adapting to the position, I’ve only been playing as a striker this season. It’s a new position for me and I’ve still got a lot to learn up there. I’m really enjoying it and it’s where I see myself going forward now for the rest of my career.
“It was my Under-18s managers at Everton, Paul Tait and Kevin Sheedy, who initially made the decision. They both saw me play just off the striker and I scored four against Stoke in a league game. That was one of my first games as a striker. The week after that I scored a hat-trick against Manchester City. Since that game I haven’t played any other position. There was no looking back after that.
“My ultimate goal is to play as many games in the Premier League as I can.”