Everton wrap up their Australia mid-season tour with a match against A-League side Western Sydney Wanderers at the Commbank Stadium on Wednesday.
The Toffees have already claimed the Sydney Super Cup courtesy of their penalty shootout victory over Celtic on Sunday, though the goalless draw that proceeded the shootout will do little to ease concerns about Everton’s lack of attacking threat.
The biggest positive was a man of the match performance by Isaac Price. The 19-year-old was expected to be sent out on loan in January to gain some first team experience but may now force himself into the first-team reckoning.
The second match against weaker opposition presents the opportunity for other youngsters to impress.
Everton’s slump in form before the World Cup break means no-one can be totally sure of their place in the starting XI. The opportunity is there for some academy graduates if they are ready to take it.
Western Sydney Wanderers are one of the newest A-League clubs, having been formed in 2012.
As their name implies Wanderers are based in the western suburbs of Sydney and rival Sydney FC, who are based in the east of the city.
They have certainly packed a lot into their first decade, winning the A-League title in their inaugural season before becoming the first Australian side to win the AFC Champions League the following year.
They have made a decent start to their A-League campaign, sitting second with 13 points from six matches - including a 1-0 derby win away at rivals Sydney FC.
Former Everton midfielder Jack Rodwell joined their ranks last season before moving to city rivals Sydney FC earlier this year.
Everton will be without midfielder Tom Davies who suffered a knee injury ahead of the Celtic game and has returned home.
Abdoulaye Doucoure picked up a knee problem of his own against Celtic while Yerry Mina sustained a hamstring injury, with both unlikely to feature on Wednesday.
What they said
Everton assistant coach Ashley Cole: “The squad have enjoyed the tour. Being back in England, you don’t always have time to interact with fans as much because the focus is on business but the chance to come here and meet fans from Australia and get to see a beautiful city, it’s been a good experience.
“We’ve heard a lot about Western Sydney Wanderers and the atmosphere the stadium can generate. We know they are doing well in the A-League and have some good individual players. As staff, we will make preparations ahead of the game.”
Western Sydney Wanderers boss Marko Rudan: “We saw them against Celtic and it was a different type of game. They sat in a low block for most of that game and played five at the back. But they have changed their systems throughout the season in the Premier League so they can change it up. We’ve made sure we have analysed them properly.
“We just want to go out there and play our kind of football and be the best that we can be. We have huge respect for Everton. We just hope it’s a good game and the fans enjoy themselves as well.”
Some goals and a win would be nice to give a little confidence boost before the players go on a mini break before resuming training at the start of December.
It would be great to see some of the young players impress as well. There’s first-team places to be had if they do.