The 2018 World Cup ended over the weekend allowing fans a bit of a respite before the preseason friendlies pick up steam and lead us into the Premier League season kicking off in just under a month.
Everton had three players at the global showcase, with each of the trio playing key roles in the tournament.
Jordan Pickford, England
After a group stage where he came under fire in the game against Belgium for apparently being too short and/or going for a save with the wrong hand, the young goalie seemed to hit elite levels in the early knockout rounds, putting in inspired performances against Colombia and Sweden as the Three Lions romped into the semis.
However against Croatia in the World Cup semi-final he was unable to save England. Even though Pickford had made a couple of very good stops already, both Ivan Perisic and Mario Mandzukic came up with unstoppable shots to send England out.
Pickford was reported to have asked manager Gareth Southgate to play in the 3rd place playoff to improve his chances of going for the Golden Glove, but despite making another couple of good stops, his reactions were not quick enough to save from Thomas Meunier and his positioning looked suspect on Eden Hazard’s spectacular solo goal.
Pickford hasn't had to do much today, but he just came up big for England! pic.twitter.com/k2vA0jMFXj— FOX Soccer (@FOXSoccer) July 7, 2018
Gylfi Sigurdsson, Iceland
Both the quality of the opposition in the group as well as the quality of his teammates put paid to Siggy’s chances of making progress in the tournament. His skied penalty when down by two against Nigeria didn’t help matters, and even though he made amends scoring another spotkick in the next game, they never really looked like beating the World Cup runners-up Croatia.
Idrissa Gueye, Senegal
The African side will consider themselves very unlucky to exit the tournament, becoming the first country to get knocked out on ‘fair play points’. Gana played his own part there, picking up a needless booking along the way. He was decent in the three games he played, but was ultimately expected to contribute more offensively in his role, and as Everton fans have already seen that is not quite in his repertoire.
Manager Marco Silva has not indicated the exact dates of return for the trio, but it appears across the Premier League most managers are giving their players three weeks of holiday to rest and recharge their batteries.
Sigurdsson and Gueye were both eliminated in the last week of June, so it’s likely they’ll be back at Finch Farm next Monday, after the Blues return from their trip to Portugal this weekend for the Algarve Cup.
Pickford played right through to the last weekend of the competition, so it’s unlikely we see him back any time before the first full week of August, which is days before the Blues travel to Wolverhampton Wanderers for their season opener on Saturday 11th.
Many other Premier League sides are not expecting to have their stars back for the opening weekend, and if Pickford were to miss out on the trip to Wolves then we could be looking at Maarten Stekelenburg starting with Mateusz Hewelt as his back-up for that game, especially if the Blues do not sign any other goalies between now and August 9th when the transfer window closes.