So this is what it comes down to for many players in the Everton squad on the outside looking in. Whenever Sam Allardyce has been asked about his January transfer window activity, he always brings up his thirty-odd strong squad, and says that some players out of that number will have to go for more players to come in.
Which brings about today’s behind-closed-doors game that Allardyce referred to during his post-match comments after the win over Swansea City last night. Speaking to the collective media at Goodison Park, Big Sam said -
"I'm going to put on an 11 v 11 tomorrow for 90 minutes. All the players who have not been in the squad can get on the pitch and play against each other and can show me what they've got.
"So I'm very interested in what I'm going to see tomorrow.”
He went on to refer to his almost unchanged starting lineup for the last few games -
"I've picked these players all the time now and rarely made a change. There's one thing that really pleases me is that they've made it extremely difficult for me to leave them out.
"Full marks to them and all the players sat behind them are saying: 'When am I going to get my chance?'. A good squad (member) will say to himself: 'When I am picked I will be ready'. If they let their fitness go and let themselves get dragged down by not playing games and then get the opportunity and let themselves down again, they won't get back in.
"Eveyone has got to be ready to snatch their chance when they get their opportunity because there are so many professionals here who want to play and they are going to get a chance somewhere down the line - we've already played 30 games.
"We've made 38 or 39 changes."
Assuming the players on long-term injury leave will get a bye, and with this game supposedly going on today at Finch Farm, here are our thoughts on who could be playing to (literally) save their Blue lives.
Joel Robles - Has already said he wants to return to Spain and is winding down his current contract. Could still get transferred in January.
Maarten Stekelenburg - Stek is headed for retirement most likely after this season.
Mateusz Hewelt - Youngster hasn’t played too many Under-23 games this season, has trained with the seniors a lot.
Michael Keane - His latest injury was timely because he was struggling mightily. While still a keystone of the future for the Blues, he needs some of whatever Big Sam has been feeding Mason Holgate.
Phil Jagielka - Allardyce has been so thrilled with how well Holgate and Ashley Williams are playing that neither Jags nor Keane have been able to get back into the lineup.
Luke Garbutt - Fullback wasn’t even handed a number to begin this season, but has been playing regularly for the Under-23s at age 24. With no news on Leighton Baines, could Garbutt back up Cuco Martina especially with the busy festive schedule?
Ross Barkley - Is Ross staying with Everton or leaving in January? Either way, Allardyce will like to see what he’s capable of coming back from injury.
Beni Baningime - Youngster wowed the fans with his effort and skill in games under David Unsworth, but has returned to Under-23s action since Big Sam arrived.
Liam Walsh - Another youngster, Walsh came back from his loan at struggling Birmingham City where he was sparsely used.
Muhamed Besic - Besic is finally fit again, but faces an uphill battle to show that there is more to him than being just a hatchet-man for the Blues.
James McCarthy - Plagued by injuries throughout his Everton career, can Allardyce bank on him to stay fit for longer than a couple of games at a time? Will the Blues hold on to him to spell the excellent Idrissa Gueye?
Davy Klaassen - Along with Barkley, yet another #10 in a side that already has two in Wayne Rooney and Gylfi Sigurdsson. Has appeared off the pace in all his appearances so far, and this friendly could be a high stakes last chance for him before January.
Sandro Ramirez - The Spaniard hasn’t been bad when he’s gotten on the pitch, but has looked out of sync in a previously dysfunctional team. Having wildly succeeded in La Liga, there is still hope for him.
Oumar Niasse - There were rumours before the game that the Senegalese striker had staged a walkout, but Allardyce said after the game his dropping that was part of squad rotation.
Kevin Mirallas - Morgan Schneiderlin and the Belgian got into a spot of trouble during a training session, but while it seems Schneiderlin has made his way back into the squad, there has been no carrot for Kev. Very likely he’ll be gone ignominiously in January, a sad farewell to five years at the club.