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Everton set to name strong side for SportPesa Trophy tie

Mid-season friendly the ideal chance to get some players up to match speed

Everton FC v Brighton & Hove Albion - Premier League Photo by Clive Brunskill/Getty Images

Marco Silva is likely to use Tuesday’s friendly against Gor Mahia as an opportunity for give some squad players a much needed run out.

The Toffees are contractually obliged to name a strong side against the Kenyan champions, with the game part of the club’s sponsorship deal with Sportpesa.

There are, of course, likely to be several changes to the side that beat Brighton on Saturday, especially with a tricky trip to Chelsea coming up. But the game is the ideal chance for those on the fringes of the first-team to get some minutes under their belt.

Yerry Mina is the player most likely to benefit from Tuesday’s game. The Colombian finally made his debut in the closing minutes against Brighton after recovering from a foot injury that has hampered him since the World Cup.

With on-loan Kurt Zouma ineligible against parent club Chelsea on Sunday, Mina is in line to make his first competitive start for the Toffees at Stamford Bridge. Therefore the 24-year-old is expected to start and play most of Tuesday’s game in order to boost his fitness ahead of Sunday.

The likes of Morgan Schniederlin and Leighton Baines are also expected to start given their lack of first-team action in recent weeks. It’s also the perfect chance for James McCarthy to continue his recovery from a broken leg.

Having a friendly organised in the midst of a busy season is certainly unusual, but it may actually benefit Silva’s squad in the long run as we head into the busy winter schedule.

This game was originally planned for the Sportpesa Cup in the summer, but was later postponed for scheduling reasons.

The opposition

Gor Mahia will make history on Tuesday when they become the first African side to play at Goodison Park.

They secured their trip to Merseyside by beating Simba SC Tanzania 2-0 in June to retain the SportPesa Super Cup.

It was their first victory, in 2017, that set up a first meeting with the Blues in Tanzinia. Everton won 2-1 on that occasion thanks to goals from Kieran Dowell and Wayne Rooney.

They have won the Kenyan Premier League a record 17 times, four more than any other side, including five of the last six titles.

They are managed by Englishman Dylan Kerr, who had a nomadic playing career taking in spells at 18 clubs including Reading, Leeds, Doncaster and Blackpool.

Final word

While this is basically a promotional event for SportPesa, Silva can at least take advantage of the extra game to get some of his squad players up to speed.

Though obviously more talented than their opponents, the game is a huge occasion for Gor Mahia so the Toffees will be facing a highly motivated team keen to make an impression.

A win and some goals would be nice, but avoiding any injuries is more important.