Mason Holgate. Callum Connolly. Jonjoe Kenny. All three are players who have been or are set to be given a serious look in Everton’s first team for the upcoming season. Ronald Koeman trusts his young players. Elsewhere, though, it’s not quite so simple.
One of the bizarre storylines out of Goodison Park in the last year has been the situation at left back. Luke Garbutt remains stuffed in a locker somewhere, while Brendan Galloway was unceremoniously loaned to West Bromwich Albion, recalled, and largely unused.
Galloway, 21, is a center back by trade, and recently spoke out regarding his miserable stay at the Hawthorns.
There was a lot of frustration last season.
I had to deal with that, I have learned how to deal with things off the pitch mentally.
I have become a stronger person and now I am looking forward to the challenge.
I learned last season that you have to get your head down, work hard, do extra things and stay focused because you never know if you will get the opportunity.
I had to remain patient, that has made me stronger and hopefully it shapes me up well for the future.
The young defender has recently been loaned to
Everton B Sunderland, where he should receive ample playing time in competition with Bryan Oviedo at left back.
Meanwhile, 22 year old Matthew Pennington is set to face a losing battle for playing time in the 2017-18 Everton set up. The Blues have four players in front of him who are all more capable at center back - Ashley Williams, Michael Keane, Phil Jagielka, and Mason Holgate.
If Ramiro Funes Mori returns from injury any time soon, that makes five. Hull City boss Leonid Slutsky recently confirmed the Tigers’ interest in Pennington, and it seems likely that a move to the Championship - perhaps on a permanent deal - would be in everyone’s best interests.
Either way, Ronald Koeman’s defense is very much in a state of flux. Cuco Martina is expected to join on a free transfer from Southampton, while Everton are also looking to bring in one more versatile reinforcement, like Jairo Riedewald, Bruno Martins Indi, or Marcel Tisserand.
There should still be enough playing time to go around, but the departures of Tyias Browning, Brendan Galloway, and potentially Matthew Pennington shouldn’t be seen as a bad thing.