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Everton could have young debutant in defence at Spurs

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Lewis Gibson in line for his first Toffees appearance in season opener on Sunday

Everton v Preston North End - Pre-Season Friendly Photo by Nathan Stirk/Getty Images

While Everton have been busy splashing the cash in midfield and further forward over the last couple of weeks with key transfers in the form of Allan, James Rodriguez and Abdoulaye Doucoure, they could see youngster Lewis Gibson make his debut in the season opener at Tottenham Hotspur on Sunday.

The centrehalf just turned 20 this July and is looking to make an impression on Carlo Ancelotti, but remains likely to go out on loan this season with the Blues wanting to get him playing as much as possible. Gibson has reportedly already turned down moves to Huddersfield Town and Reading over the summer [Athletic], and the competition is on between him and Jarrad Branthwaite to see who is higher up the Everton youngsters’ pecking order.

Mason Holgate picked a toe injury in the Blues’ last preseason game against Preston North End on Saturday, and though it’s not a serious issue he is expected to miss some time. Holgate had a breakthrough season last campaign for the Toffees, but struggled with injuries after resumption from the COVID break.

Yerry Mina, who has seen his short time with Everton blighted with multiple small niggles, missed the Preston game with injuries as well as not being in the squad to close out the 2019-20 season.

Michael Keane remains the only fully fit first team centre back in the squad, and featured over the weekend as well. Fresh off signing a new contract with the Blues, he will be looking to add to the 34 appearances he made last season.

Branthwaite had taken full advantage of his opportunities last campaign, playing in four games after overcoming a rocky start following his January transfer from Carlisle United. However, the 18-year-old missed the Preston game with an unnamed injury and his status for Sunday’s season opener remains unknown.

Everton are reportedly close to bringing in Chelsea’s Fikayo Tomori on loan for the season [RBM], though it is unlikely he will get right into the squad even if he passes his medical today.

Gibson made a couple of early mistakes against Preston, and but was more assured later on having to play with Jonjoe Kenny as his defensive pair after Holgate left the game injured. The challenge posed by Tottenham will be a whole different level though. He has never played for the Blues after joining from Newcastle’s youth system in 2017, though he was on the bench for the trip to West Ham United in January 2020.

Meanwhile, Ancelotti will then be left with the decision to make on how many central defenders to go into the season with, especially with two youngsters who need to be playing week in, week out.