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Everton are back - Toffees check-in to Finch Farm for start of pre-season

Here we go again...

Everton Return for Pre-Season Training Photo by Tony McArdle/Everton FC via Getty Images

Preparations for the 2022-23 campaign have officially begun with the players returning to Finch Farm for the first day of pre-season.

Those involved in the end-of-season international matches, such as Jordan Pickford and Anthony Gordon, have been given some more time off. But players such as Ben Godfrey and Tom Davies were among those checking in on Monday morning for fitness tests.

James Tarkowski was also among the group after his free transfer move from Burnley was rubber-stamped over the weekend.

Click through the gallery below to see the returning players.

There will be a staggered return for the rest of the squad, though Frank Lampard is likely to have his full complement of players available before they jet off to the USA for a pre-season tour in a fortnight’s time.

There are currently only three pre-season fixtures confirmed; Arsenal in Baltimore on July 16, Minnesota United on July 21 and Blackpool on Jul 24. I’d expect at least two more games to be added to the schedule, one before they jet off to the USA later this month and another the weekend before the start of the season.

Though the first day of pre-season is usually a time of great optimism, there are myriad emotions swirling around Everton at present.

First of all there is relief. Relief that they remain a Premier League club after coming so close to falling through the trapdoor. There is also now a renewed determination to ensure they are not in that position again.

But there is also a great deal of uncertainty. The sale of Richarlison reflected the desperate state of Everton’s finances as they battle to stay within the Premier League’s profit and loss regulations. Years of awful recruitment have led to this point and although the £60m banked from Spurs, plus the expiry of several hefty contracts, eases the pressure, there is still a pressing need to move under-performing players on during the summer transfer window.

Then there is the question of incomings. Lampard and Kevin Thelwell do now have some wiggle room in the transfer market but it is imperative they recruit the right profile of player. Tarkowski looks a shrewd signing but focus must now move to the other end of the pitch, where Everton now look desperately short of creativity. James Rodriguez, Lucas Digne, Gylfi Sigurdsson and Richarlison have all left over the last 12 months. Dominic Calvert-Lewin remains and will hope to recapture his form of two years ago, but he can’t do it all on his own.

Finally, there's also the psychodrama currently taking place in the boardroom. After breaking his silence last month and apologising for the mess the club is in, Farhad Moshiri then entered in talks about selling the club to a US consortium fronted by former Manchester United and Chelsea FC chief exec Peter Kenyon.

Everton briefed some journalists on Friday that those talks had collapsed, while sources from the Kenyon side told other journalists that the deal was still on. All this could be part of the negotiating game, but the longer it goes on the greater the uncertainty, which can have a corrosive effect on other parts of the club.

It all means that things are unlikely to be dull as we prepare for another nine months on board the Everton rollercoaster.

Strap yourself in.