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Everton v Apollon Limassol - Europa League Match Preview

Toffees without a number of players for Thursday’s Group E match

Everton v MFK Ruzomberok - UEFA Europa League Third Qualifying Round: First Leg Photo by Clive Brunskill/Getty Images

All hail king Oumar!

Niasse’s glorious double against Bournemouth on Saturday lifted Evertonian spirits and eased the pressure on manager Ronald Koeman after a difficult start to the season.

The come-from-behind win completed a successful week for the Toffees that also yielded a victory in the Carabao Cup, suggesting the tide may finally be turning after a dreadful few weeks.

However, Saturday’s late flourish shouldn’t disguise what was yet another largely sluggish performance from an Everton side sorely lacking pace and dynamism.

Ronald Koeman insists his players are good enough to turn it around and that time is needed to integrate so many new players into his team.

Everton v AFC Bournemouth - Premier League Photo by Mark Robinson/Getty Images

Yet the evidence we have seen so far suggests the squad is ill-balanced and unsuited to Koeman’s favoured formation no matter how long they are given to get it right.

It’s early days of course, but we are left clinging to the hope that the team’s poor form is indeed temporary and not a symptom of deeper problems.

The opposition

They may not have too much European pedigree but back in Cyprus Apollon Limassol are one of the country’s most successful clubs with three league titles, nine domestic cups and three Cypriot Super Cups to their name.

They have regularly qualified for European competition, particularly over the past 30 years, but have struggled to make much of an impact.

This season is just the third time they have reached the Europa League group stages and prior to that had never made it past the second round of any European competition.

They did, however, claim a credible 1-1 draw in the opening group match against Lyon, who are widely considered to be favourites to win the group.

This will be the first competitive meeting between the sides and Everton’s first match against any Cypriot opposition.

Apollon’s only other meeting with an English team was against Merseyside rivals Liverpool in the 1992-93 Cup Winners’ Cup, which Liverpool won 8-2 on aggregate.

Team news

Ronald Koeman has confirmed Phil Jagielka and Michael Keane will be again be absent on Thursday, leaving the team short of numbers in defence.

Jagielka has a hamstring strain while Keane has a foot problem with both players also doubtful for Sunday’s game with Burnley.

Academy defender Morgan Feeney trained with the first-team squad on Wednesday and could be included in the matchday 18.

James McCarthy is also still absent though he has been cleared to resume training on Friday following a hamstring injury.

Oumar Niasse is ineligible as he wasn’t included in Everton’s Europa League squad list. Cheers Ronald.

Wayne Rooney should be fit despite suffering a facial injury during Saturday’s win over Bournemouth.

Predicted starting XI

Stekelenburg, Kenny, Williams, Holgate, Baines, Gueye, Davies, Klaassen, Sigurdsson, Rooney, Calvert-Lewin.

Final word

Everton should have enough quality to secure victory here and continue rebuilding their shattered morale.

Apollon should, of course, not be underestimated as shown by their credible draw against Lyon.

However, they tend to struggle on their travels in Europe so the Toffees should be disappointed with anything other than victory at Goodison Park.