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James McCarthy should leave Everton to save his career

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Mainly through no fault of his own, his career has stalled at Goodison. A change of scene may do him good

Everton v West Bromwich Albion - Premier League
McCarthy and Barry formed a wonderful partnership at Everton, but that feels like ancient history now
Photo by Tony Marshall/Getty Images

If anything proved Marco Silva’s conviction as Everton manager, it was the sense of ruthlessness about his team-sheet in Sunday’s win over Crystal Palace.

With summer arrivals from Barcelona André Gomes and Yerry Mina finally named in the squad, the former from the start and the latter on the bench, four senior players were jettisoned altogether.

Such is the strength of the Blues’ pool of talent this season, a far cry from the paucity of quality last term, that Jonjoe Kenny, Oumar Niasse, Morgan Schneiderlin and Mason Holgate could only enjoy the 2-0 victory from the stands.

Everton FC v Crystal Palace - Premier League
Gomes enjoyed an excellent Everton debut on Sunday
Photo by Jan Kruger/Getty Images

Whether James McCarthy, back in training after a horrific double-leg break in January, was, in fact, a fifth outcast, or it was merely that he is still not ready to return, only Silva will truly know.

But the more his fellow central midfielders continue to impress, the more sensible it would seem for McCarthy to make a move.

The days of McCarthy dictating play in the middle of the park alongside the now-departed Gareth Barry seem a lifetime ago and Everton have simply moved on in that department, through the tenacious Idrissa Gueye, the exuberant Tom Davies, the assured Gomes and even the steady Schneiderlin.

Everton FC v Crystal Palace - Premier League
Idrissa Gueye has established himself above McCarthy in the central midfield pecking-order
Photo by Michael Regan/Getty Images

McCarthy complemented Barry perfectly in Roberto Martinez’s superb first season because, while Barry had a superior range of passing, the dynamism and drive of McCarthy compensated for the now 37-year-old’s severe lack of pace.

In that respect, a case could be made for the similarly slow Schneiderlin being the best fit to play with McCarthy, but with Gueye having been imperious in recent weeks and Gomes making an strong early impression on his debut, it is difficult to see either of them making Silva’s starting XI in the near future.

Davies, though only 20, has obvious detractors in his game which will need eradicating if he is to improve, but is able to fuse the sort of tough-tackling akin to McCarthy’s game with a greater determination to push forward.

Leicester City v Everton FC - Premier League
Davies has his critics but is clearly a big part of Silva’s plans
Photo by Michael Regan/Getty Images

Given Davies’ undeniable potential, and that Silva has handed him the captain’s armband on four occasions already, he is evidently a player the boss has a great deal of hope and faith in, the like of which is as yet unfounded in McCarthy.

If anything, Everton are overcrowded in this area; Silva can only choose, at most, two from Schneiderlin, Gueye, Gomes, Davies, McCarthy and youngster Beni Baningime, and while strength in depth and competition for places is vital, it will verge on impossible for the manager to keep all of these players content simultaneously.

Though his career has sadly come to a grinding halt in recent years - a meagre 19 appearances since the start of 2016/17 tells its own story - McCarthy, now 27, still has plenty of football left to play before the time comes to hang up his boots.

But one setback after another has taken its toll on the Ireland international and a team aspiring to be among the country’s elite such as Everton cannot afford to rely on players as seldom available as McCarthy.

He would still be an asset to every other Premier League side bar the top six and, much like Aaron Lennon did through his January move to Burnley, it seems McCarthy may have to leave for pastures new to enjoy the amount of game time he so desperately needs.

Everton v Norwich City - Premier League
McCarthy celebrates scoring the first goal against Norwich City
Photo by Jan Kruger/Getty Images

There will be no clamour to hound McCarthy out of the door as there has been with many of Everton’s recent outgoings; he is as likeable an individual as he is a footballer and there will be many who would rather see Schneiderlin, for instance, leave the club; a player whose attitude has been castigated far more frequently than McCarthy has.

But McCarthy now deserves the chance to feel rejuvenated on the pitch after a torrid few years riddled with injuries; sadly, though, it is unclear when, if at all, that chance will come at Goodison Park.