Will Yerry Mina partner Michael Keane this time with Jarrad Branthwaite and Mason Holgate ruled out?
Everton take their next step in what is a compressed start to the 2020-21 edition of the Carabao Cup when they travel to Fleetwood Town tomorrow evening.
Having seen off League Two Salford City in the second round a week ago, the Blues now face League One opposition in the form of Joey Barton’s side but with another important Premier League game looming on Saturday, Carlo Ancelotti is expected to make a significant number of changes to his starting XI.
Against Salford, Michael Keane was the only player to start that match and the season-opener at Tottenham and it’s likely to be a similar situation in this tie, although the injury crisis at centre-back means that both Keane and Yerry Mina are likely to be in the line-up.
However, the Colombian’s own injury niggles since he arrived at Goodison two years ago might see Ancelotti err on the side of caution and deploy a makeshift centre-half instead.
Lucas Digne came on after 24 minutes against Salford when Jarrad Branthwaite had to go off with torn ankle ligaments to fill in at centre-half but both Jonjoe Kenny and Seamus Coleman can operate there as well, as can Fabian Delph who might be in the running to play if he is finally passed fit.
The only other fit option with any first-team experience was Lewis Gibson but, as expected, he has sealed a season-long loan move to Reading and won’t be available to play against Fleetwood, the team for whom he had a spell on loan last season.
In goal, Joao Virginia is expected to be able to celebrate his new four-year contract by making his second start and Jonjoe Kenny will probably get the nod at right-back again. Meanwhile, Anthony Gordon, Niels Nkounkou and Moise Keane will be hoping to get another opportunity to shine.
The remaining spots will be contested by the likes of Alex Iwobi (who could come in on one flank given how poor Theo Walcott was against Salford), Bernard, Delph, Tom Davies (if he is fit) and Gylfi Sigurdsson, although the Icelander may be given compassionate leave following the tragic death of his brother-in-law.
None of the new signings are expected to be involved from the start and, if Ancelotti opts for a similar approach to the last round, James Rodriguez will be rested completely.
Fleetwood, now managed by boyhood Evertonian, Barton, were promoted to the Football League for the first time eight years ago and took the step up to English football’s third tier in only their second season.
Barton took over as the long-term successor to Uwe Rösler in 2018 following John Sheridan’s interim tenure and steered the Fishermen to an 11th place finish in 2018-19 and then into the playoffs last season where they lost to Wycombe Wanderers.
This season they sit 11th after two games having beaten Burton Albion but lost to Peterborough United. As such, they should pose more of a challenge than Salford did, particularly as they have the benefit of playing in the more familiar environs of their Highbury Stadium.
Ancelotti will hope that even with another much-changed side, his Blues can get the job done and book their place in the fourth round where they would meet West Ham United at Goodison Park.
Kick-off: 7:45pm, Wednesday, 23 September, 2020
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Gylfi wont have compassionate leave. Its a bit late for that. The incident was reported to have happened on 11th September and Gylfi has played in all the games since then. I cant see him suddenly going home now.
Anyone know is it on TV anywhere?
I appreciate he has to rest players and manage injuries but wouldn’t it be nice if we really focused on winning this competition this year.
Every year we make the same mistakes and let’s face it we’re only in with a chance of winning two trophies.
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