Everton’s preparations for the 2011/12 season take a step up on Friday evening when they travel to Bury for their first pre-season game of the summer (KO 7:45pm BST).
These friendlies usually present the chance for the fans to see new signings in the flesh for the first time, but given our well publicised financial problems (which I'm too depressed to go into right now), the only new figure from last season’s squad is Joseph Yobo, who was forced to return to Finch Farm following the collapse of his move to Fenerbahce
Phil Neville has revealed that many of the squad’s youngsters will get a game at Gigg Lane. With internationals like Phil Jagielka and Leighton Baines only returning to training this week, this match may have came to soon for them - certainly to start.
That said many of the reserves, such as Velios, Jose Baxter, Luke Garbutt and Hallam Hope, are currently in Russia for the VTB Lev Yashin Cup, an Under-21 tournament involving the Blues, Germans SC Freiburg, OFK Beograd and hosts Dynamo Moscow.
Midfielder James Wallace will also be absent after he was called up to the England Under-20 squad for the forthcoming World Cup in Columbia.
So therefore, if you’re in the greater Manchester area on Friday night and you’ve got your boots handy, you may get a game!
Back to Neville and the game will be a home coming for the Toffees skipper. Bury is his home town and he has a special affinity with the football club, with several members of his still family working at the League One outfit. The club is currently on a high after winning promotion to League One following nine years in the English football League’s basement division and in Ryan Lowe have a striker who broke a club record by netting ten goals in nine consecutive goals last season.
It is a hard one to call, pre-season friendlies are notoriously difficult to predict; especially the first one of the campaign. It would be nice to get a win but in the greater scheme of things as long as all the players come through the game unscathed I’ll be happy.
Bury – quick guide.
Formed: 24 April 1885
First game: 12 September 1885 v Wigan, won 4-3.
Nickname(s): 'The Shakers'
The club's first chairman JT Ingham gave Bury their nickname when he announced at the start of a Lancashire Senior Cup game in 1892 against Everton: "We'll give ‘em a shaking, in fact we are The Shakers!"
Ground: Gigg Lane Stadium, Greater Manchester (Capacity: 11,840)
Manager: Richie Barker – took over in April 2011 after Alan Knill left for Scunthorpe
Football League Championship: 1895
Football League Third Division/Second Division/Football League One: 1961, 1997
FA Cup 1900, 1903
Lancashire Cup 1892, 1899, 1903, 1906, 1926, 1958, 1983, 1987
Lancashire Junior Cup 1890
Manchester Cup 1894, 1896, 1897, 1900, 1903, 1905, 1925, 1935, 1951, 1952, 1968
Apart from Neville summer signing Mark Hughes is a former Everton reserve captain, while fellow Steven Schumacher is also a former Toffees trainee. Goalkeeping legend Neville Southall began his career at Gigg Lane in 1980 before moving to Everton 12 months later.