On Thursday, Everton are sending a special cross-age group squad to Oberndorf, Germany to compete in the Sparkassen-Finanzgruppe Cup. Officially an Under-19 competition, it’s a real mixture that the Toffees are sending, comprising new scholars, second year scholars, young professionals and even a schoolboy goalkeeper.
Indeed, whereas we have seen Francis Okoronkwo, Jenson Metcalfe and Martin Sherif get minutes in Sean Dyche’s pre-season friendly teams, we may yet see 15 year old goalkeeper Douglas Lukjanciks get some minutes. Also adding some much needed experience are Under 21 players Roman Dixon, Isaac Heath, Matthew Apter and Jacob Beaumont-Clark.
The twenty strong playing party is as follows:
Goalkeepers: George Pickford (no relation!) and Douglas Lukjanciks
Defenders: Jack Butler, Roman Dixon, George Finney, Daniel Maher, Bradley Moonan, Odin Samuels-Smith (twin brother of ex-Blue Ishe), Aled Thomas and Joshua Van Schoor
Midfielders: Matthew Apter, Harrison Armstrong, Callum Bates, Harvey Foster, Jenson Metcalfe, Jack Patterson (no relation to Nathan)
Forwards: Jacob Beaumont-Clark, Isaac Heath, Francis Okoronkwo and Martin Sherif
Other new scholars goalkeeper Daniel Gibson, defender Luca Davis and forwards Joel Catesby and George Morgan will remain behind at Finch Farm.
Leighton Baines who will be in charge of the group was upbeat about the prospect of seeing the squad play against elite academy teams from Germany, Italy and, subject to progression, against teams from Denmark and Brazil.
“I’m excited to see our lads against different teams. You don’t always get to play these kinds of academies, so it’ll be good to see the different styles of play.
“The majority of lads will have been on tours before, so they’ll know some of what to expect, but each tour is different and will throw up challenges.
“For some of them, as first-year scholars playing against potentially a good level of first-year pros, it’ll be challenging. There will be a lot of learning, for sure.”
The other teams involved are Mainz, Freiburg, Schalke and Stuttgart (Germany), Roma (Italy), Midtjylland (Denmark) and Palmeiras (Brazil). The squad’s first game (not full 90 minutes) sees them take on Mainz on Friday evening (5.30pm BST), before playing Roma on Saturday afternoon (12.45pm BST), and then Freiburg (5.15pm BST) on Saturday evening.
Matches will be streamed live on the tournament’s YouTube channel.
The Blues look strong especially in attack with Okoronkwo, Sherif, Heath and Beaumont- Clark so we’ll be hoping for goals. We’ll have reports and hopefully video of how the lads get on. Good luck to them all!