Date:Sunday September 24 2006
"There's a lot left to come from Franny" would be some of the thoughts of former Blackburn Rovers Craig Short, a former teammate of Francis Jeffers at Everton.
Now at Sheffield United for one final Premiership hurrah, Short has revealed he feels Jeffers' move to Rovers will see him rebuild his stuttering career. Speaking to the Lancashire Evening Telegraph Short would say:
"I remember when Franny first came on the scene at Everton. There were so many players who were being touted as the next big thing at Everton.
"There was Michael Branch, and then Danny Cadamarteri, but they never really seemed to make their mark. Then Francis came along and I remember thinking to myself Yes, this kid's really good."
Bursting onto the scene in 1998 as a 17-year-old Jeffers would eventually go on to make 60 League appearances for the Toffees scoring 20 goals, also going on to score 13 goals in 16 England U21 International games, a record shared with Rovers legend Alan Shearer.
With a move away from Everton always likely it would be Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger who would snap up Jeffers in 2001 for a fee of £8 million. His spell at Highbury was blighted by injury and poor form, seeing him manage only 8 goals in 39 appearances for the gunners, Short would add this:
"I know he went to Arsenal for big money fairly quickly, but he probably moved away from Everton too early, looking back.
"If he gets himself fit and still has the hunger to do well then he definitely has the ability because I really rated him at Everton. Watching him in training every day as a youngster, he looked like one of those players who had been around for a long time.
"He reminds me a little bit of Robbie Fowler when he was in his heyday, in terms of the way he plays. The one good thing is he's joined a club where the coaching is first class."
If anyone can bring the best out of Jeffers, getting him back to anywhere near to his best form, the kind of form that would eventually see him earn his one, and so far only England cap in 2003 (when ironically he wouldn't have even been at his best!), in which he also scored Mark Hughes and his coaching staff can.
Since the 2003-2004 season Jeffers has really struggled. In that season he returned to Goodison Park for a largely disappointing loan spell with Everton, failing to score in 18 games. A £2 million plus move across London for the start of the 2004-2005 season would see him join Charlton Athletic, but again he struggled; scoring only 5 goals in 24 matches.
Last season Jeffers would have a loan spell with Scottish giants Glasgow Rangers, but failed to make an impact, so returned to Charlton, being released at the end of his contract before returning to his native North West with his move to Rovers. Short would finish by saying:
"He's also back in the North West, where I think he's probably happiest, and he's still only 25, so if anyone is going to get the best out of him then surely it's Mark Hughes, because that was the position he played in.
"There's a lot left to come from Franny."
Hopefully all being well Jeffers can regain his "Fox in the Box" tag during his time with Rovers. All that it will need is that first goal and the confidence will come flooding back.
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Date:Sunday September 24 2006
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