Despite a comfortable 3-0 win over Salford City in the end last week, it wasn’t the most convincing performance from Everton’s second string. But did they do enough to keep their places as we continue at a rapid-fire pace into the third round of the competition?
There’s no fresh injury news coming into this one, with Alex Iwobi – who appeared from the bench at the weekend – the only player to have returned to action. There’s no word on whether Fabian Delph is close to being available for selection yet, though reports say he could be in contention for a spot.
One would hope that last week’s brightest sparks – the young duo of Niels Nkounkou and Anthony Gordon on the left – will keep their places. But how will the Blues line up for a tougher trip to Joey Barton’s Fleetwood Town?
One surprise exclusion last week was young centre-back Lewis Gibson. However, this was attributed to the fact that he is set to join Reading on-loan, with Everton not wanting to use the player in case they decide to send him to another club in January (as players can only play for a maximum of two clubs in a season).
But with Mason Holgate and Jarrad Branthwaite out injured, Everton are left with just two fit centre-backs: Michael Keane and Yerry Mina – the latter of whom is a notorious injury risk. It seems unlikely that Carlo Ancelotti will look to any of the under 23’s defenders either, considering Ryan Astley and Con Ouzounidis both played on Monday night for David Unsworth’s side.
An injury or suspension to either Keane or Mina could be catastrophic with Everton back in Premier League action on Saturday, so it’s also possible we could see Seamus Coleman and Lucas Digne utilized as makeshift centre-backs if need be.
Tactics and Formation
You don’t change a winning formula. 4-3-3 it is.
Starters (likelihood of starting rated out of 10)
Joao Virginia – 9/10
Big confidence boost for the youngster signing a new deal today, expect him to be raring to go.
Jonjoe Kenny – 9/10
Niels Nkounkou – 9/10
Michael Keane – 9/10
Yerry Mina - 7/10
A bit of a risk to play him, but no other senior centre-backs available to Carlo Ancelotti right now.
Tom Davies – 9/10
Bernard – 8/10
Gylfi Sigurdsson – 9/10
Anthony Gordon – 7/10
Deserves a start after last week’s performance, but with Bernard, Alex Iwobi and Theo Walcott also to fit in, there’s a chance he may have to settle for the bench.
Alex Iwobi – 7/10
Returned to the Everton squad for a cameo performance at the weekend. Needs minutes and this would be the perfect opportunity, unless Carlo doesn’t think he’s quite ready to start yet.
Moise Kean – 10/10
Theo Walcott – Should be a toss-up between him and Iwobi to start on the right wing, but after an all-too-common quiet game last week, Iwobi should get the nod.