Who: Tranmere Rovers v Everton
What: Pre-Season Friendly #1
When: Tuesday, July 22, 2014, 7:45pm local, 2:45pm EDT
Where: Prenton Park (Birkenhead, England)
Weather: Partly cloudy, high 75°F (24°C), wind 6mph, chance of rain 0%
TV: Available for purchase on evertontv (£3.99/individual match, £14.99/four game pre-season package)
Tickets: Online here, phone - 0871 663 1878* option 2 or in person at the Park End Ticket Office
Lukaku hasn't signed yet.
Oh, you want more? Well, let's see, no one has gotten hurt yet! So that's good. Of course, Bryan Oviedo is not expected to be ready for game action until late September as he continues to recover from the broken leg he suffered in January, so he won't play. However, last year's other long-term absentees Arouna Kone and Darron Gibson will be raring to go as they look to put last year's injury woes behind them. Despite the club's optimism that Muhamad Besic's transfer from Hungarian side Ferencvaros will finally be completed soon, he is not yet an official Everton player and so will obviously not feature. Also, the players who participated in the World Cup will be given extra time off before returning to training, so don't expect to see American hero Tim Howard, Leighton Baines, Phil Jagielka, or Kevin Mirallas.
As you probably know, this match is technically a Merseyside derby of sorts, as Tranmere Rovers is the "other" team from the area. Based at Prenton Park in the town of Birkenhead (located just across the River Mersey from the city of Liverpool), Tranmere has struggled both competitively and financially in recent years. Most recently they suffered through a tumultuous campaign in which their manager was fired for pulling a Pete Rose and betting on his team's matches, and ended with relegation to League Two on the final day of the season.
Tranmere has already played three pre-season friendlies this month under new manager Rob Edwards, so they may be a tad sharper than the Everton players despite the obvious gap in quality. Rovers have made several signings in their quest to bounce straight back up to League One, but keep an eye out for Scottish midfielder Marc Laird, a former Manchester City youth player who has been tabbed as a key addition to the squad. Another player to watch is 20-year-old midfielder Max Power, who has already made 64 appearances for Tranmere despite his young age.
What to Watch For
Though the starting lineup should feature plenty of familiar faces, look for youth to be served as the match progresses. Facing a more crowded schedule than in years past, Roberto Martinez has emphasized the important role that some of the younger players will play this season, and he will want to get a good look at some of them here. Three who should definitely feature are 19-year-old forward Chris Long, 21-year-old defender Luke Garbutt, and 21-year-old forward Conor McAleny. Long has seen his stock rise recently, netting his first professional goal during a one-month loan at League One's Milton Keynes Dons and impressing for the Under-21s. Garbutt is a name we've heard for awhile but now finally appears to be knocking on the door of the first team, possibly filling the role of backup to Baines and Oviedo at left back. McAleny might be the youngster I'm personally most eager to see get some playing time. You might remember that he actually has already made two appearances for the first team (way back in December 2011) and showed promise, but injuries have hampered him since. If he's healthy, he could be an option in 2014-15, especially if the current dearth of strikers isn't adequately addressed.