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All hope not lost for once-vaunted Everton fullback

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Luke Garbutt is finally wanted somewhere, even if it’s in League One with Oxford United

England U21 v Belarus U21 Photo by Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images

From England youth international and heir-apparent to Leighton Baines at Everton to League One mainstay, Luke Garbutt has certainly fallen down the ranks in the last few years.

It wasn’t that long ago, 2015 to be precise, when it looked like the Toffees had indeed found a successor to Baines’ tiring legs. Garbutt was 22, at the peak of his powers and had made 10 appearances in the 2014-15 season with the Blues under Roberto Martinez as Everton progressed to the Europa League quarterfinals. At that point, the Harrogate-born youngster had featured in an incredible 53 youth internationals for the Three Lions, playing at every level from Under-16 all the way up to Under-21 and was even an Under-17 European champion back in 2010.

Yet somehow, things all went wrong from there. Martinez’s third and final season was another disaster while Garbutt went to the Championship on loan to Fulham where he played 27 times. The next season there was no room for him under Ronald Koeman so he went on a half-season loan to Wigan Athletic, who were happy to return him to the Blues in January.

With no takers for his services in 2017-18, David Unsworth gave him a chance as an overage player on the Under-23 side where he scored thrice with one assist in 13 appearances. Then he spent all of last season on loan at Oxford United, playing 36 games scoring four times with eight assists. He had to overcome a rocky start there and got a lot of stick from fans calling him ‘Garbage’ but eventually came good towards the end of the season when he fully embraced the fullback/wingback hybrid role assigned to him.

His manager at Oxford Karl Robinson certainly liked what he saw, because the Yellows definitely want him back permanently. Speaking to the Oxford Mail Robinson indicated that negotiations were well underway for Garbutt and fellow loanee from Watford FC Jerome Sinclair.

“We’re still speaking to Garbs and his parent club, and we’re still speaking to Jerome, so that’s where we’re at. I imagine we will have answers soon.

“Hally (Rob Hall) can play out wide or as a ten, Sykesy (Mark Sykes) can play there, we’ve got James Henry in there as well. We’ve also got Gavin (Whyte) on the right, so we probably need another one or two on the left.

“We would be looking for a left-footed player, ideally we’ll bring Garbs back.”

There is certainly no future for Garbutt at Everton with the emergence of Lucas Digne and Baines signing on for another year. And while the Blues being linked to Kieran Tierney from Celtic is a puzzling rumour, it certainly does not affect the clearout that Marcel Brands is trying to enforce at Finch Farm.

The fullback was in the news last month, calling out the few Everton fans who were spotted on the bus route during Liverpool’s Champions League parade.

We can only wish Garbutt the best of luck in his future endeavours.