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Everton at Hajduk Split: Projected XI

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Assessing the Blues’ personnel options ahead of their match in Croatia

Everton FC v Hajduk Split - UEFA Europa League Qualifying Play-Offs Round: First Leg Photo by Jan Kruger/Getty Images

The Toffees remain in good form ahead of what could prove to be a very tough match in Croatia on Thursday. Everton heads to Hajduk Split with a 2-0 lead after a decent first-leg showing at Goodison Park. Ronald Koeman and the boys still have some work to do though, and the Dutchman has a few tough decisions to make.

Could Gylfi Sigurdsson get into the match? Who else might play?


Tactics and Formation

Koeman has swapped between a 4-3-3, 5-2-2-1, and 5-2-3 so far this season, but the 4-3-3 was quite dangerous against Split in the first leg. Expect him to use a similar style, setup, and personnel in the second leg, perhaps in an attempt to get an early away goal that would put the tie to bed.

Starters (likelihood of starting rated out of 10)

Jordan Pickford - 10/10

Cuco Martina - 8/10

Martina was solid in the first leg of this tie, and Mason Holgate put in a hard-working, 90 minute shift against City on Monday. The Curacao international is the obvious choice.

Ashley Williams - 7/10

Williams played less minutes on Monday, so he gets the leg up on Phil Jagielka. Both center-backs have played well thus far this season, and the balancing act between the experienced Welsh and English defenders is a good problem for Koeman to have.

Michael Keane - 10/10

Keane’s been a rock in both back fours and back fives, and we don’t see any world in which he comes out of the lineup anytime soon.

Leighton Baines - 10/10

Back-up left-back watch continues...

Morgan Schneiderlin - 10/10

The Frenchman is suspended for the weekend’s match against Chelsea, so there’s no reason not to push him to his limits here. Don’t forget that the Toffees second-half struggles in the first leg came with Schneiderlin on the bench.

Idrissa Gueye - 8/10

Gana was one of Everton’s best players against Manchester City, and has been in most of the club’s matches so far this season. The only thing that could keep him out of this match is fatigue.

Davy Klaassen - 8/10

Tom Davies got the start ahead of Klaassen on Monday, but this tactical setup plays to Klaassen’s strengths more that Monday’s 5-2-2-1. It is unlikely, but not impossible, that Davies supplants him again.

Kevin Mirallas - 8/10

Mirallas’ pace and quality on the ball gave Hajduk problems in the first leg, and he’s well-rested after not appearing against Manchester City.

Ademola Lookman - 8/10

The same can be said for Lookman, who was one of Everton’s brightest stars in the first leg.

Wayne Rooney - 7/10

Koeman surely can’t love the idea of forcing Rooney’s old legs into another big match this early in the season, but with Sandro Ramirez still fighting injury, and Dominic Calvert-Lewin coming off a difficult 90-minute performance on Monday, he may not have a choice.

Manchester City v Everton - Premier League Photo by Stu Forster/Getty Images

Bench

  • Maarten Stekelenburg
  • Gylfi Sigurdsson - It isn’t impossible that we see the Icelander in a starting role, but Lookman and Mirallas combined well in the first leg, and Sigurdsson could definitely use another week to get acclimated to his new surroundings. Expect a bench role for Gylfi again.
  • Tom Davies
  • Phil Jagielka
  • Mason Holgate
  • Dominic Calvert-Lewin/Sandro Ramirez - Calvert-Lewin did so much running on Monday that Koeman could leave him out of the 18 altogether, but only if Sandro is ready to go. If not, it’ll be a bench role for the young Englishman.
  • Muhamed Besic

Would you make any changes to the RBM Projected XI Conglomerate’s matchday squad? Does Aaron Lennon’s exile continue? Is there a better solution among the front three? Let us know in the comments.