Everton submitted their 25-man squad list for the Premier League run-in on Wednesday and fans would have been disappointed to see that Tom Davies was omitted. The 23-year old underwent surgery on his hamstring last month and evidently it has been determined that he is unlikely to recover in time to contribute to the remainder of the season.
The midfielder had been little used by former Blues manager Rafa Benitez, clocking up just 309 minutes in all competitions and starting only a single league match before injuring his knee during a substitute appearance against Tottenham Hotspur on November 7th. Sidelined for two months, Davies then suffered a high-grade tendon injury to his hamstring in early January, necessitating a surgical procedure, which appears to have been successful. Any hopes of making an impression on new boss Frank Lampard however, have been dashed with the news that his season has ended.
The academy product made his debut for the Blues in the dying days of the Roberto Martinez era, in April 2016 and was given his first start by caretaker David Unsworth in the last game of the season, against Norwich City. Then 18-years old, he broke through the following season under Ronald Koeman, a possible career highlight being him scoring the third goal during a 4-0 rout of Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City at Goodison Park.
The boyhood Evertonian’s reputation was at an all-time high as rumours swirled regarding an impending bid for him from Chelsea, in the summer of 2017. Davies continued his progression the following season, being utilized in several positions but was used more sporadically by Marco Silva in the 2018/19 season, despite being given the captain’s armband on several occasions. The youngster was back to seeing more regular action during the following campaign, developing into more of a holding midfielder under Carlo Ancelotti. But last season, Davies saw his playing time again reduced slightly, as he struggled to hold down a regular starting berth.
Benitez took charge at Goodison Park last summer and reports emerged that Tom was one of a number of players available for transfer, which may have affected his focus as he gave a number of uncharacteristically listless performances; an EFL cup game against Championship outfit Huddersfield Town being a particular low point. The player appeared an increasingly peripheral figure, a squad option at best, struggling to challenge the favoured midfield of Abdoulaye Doucoure and Allan.
Davies will now not be eligible for selection until he enters into the last twelve months of his contract and it must now be considered that his Everton career is drawing to a close. The club may understandably be unwilling to extend his deal, considering his current status in the first team; the need to generate player trading profits may necessitate moving the player on.
It is easy to forget how excited fans were when Tom broke through as a teenager, a local lad and Toffees fan. Unfortunately, the midfielder has not progressed as anticipated, despite making 158 appearances for the Blues. He will be only 24 when next season comes around, young enough still, but he’s lost almost a full season of potential development to this injury setback and seems to have been treading water for a few years as is.
It now appears the time is drawing close to when Tom may need to attempt to restart his career elsewhere, seek out new opportunities. As it stands, he seems as far away from establishing himself as an Everton regular as he ever has. For all those of us who believed he’d get there, that is a sad thing to read, or indeed to write.