Everton’s meeting with Liverpool could shape last days of the transfer window
Everton’s under-23s face Liverpool on Monday evening in what is set to be an important fixture for many on the pitch.
Not just because of local pride, although that will certainly be in the back of David Unsworth’s mind – as the boss certainly will be desperate to win against the Reds.
The young Blues lost the reverse clash in the opening game of the season in September, with a Jake Cain goal in the first minute separating the two sides at full time.
Everton had named a strong side for that match, with the boss keen to get many in the shop window in an attempt to earn them at least a loan move before the end of the summer transfer window.
He was left bitterly disappointed with many. So there’s a certain amount of pride riding on this match for a number of players.
But, the original sentiment from the match back in September still stands.
It would not be a surprise to see Unsworth go with a similarly strong team again and give players what has been a rare opportunity to impress potential suitors, either for a permanent switch or a loan move.
This will be the first time the club’s U23s have been in action for exactly a month, last taking to the field for a 2-2 draw away to Brighton on December 18.
They only played one other match that month, beating West Ham United 2-1, meaning there has been seldom little opportunity in close-proximity to this transfer window to impress.
While the likes of Beni Baningime, Ellis Simms and Tyler Onyango have been allowed to train with the first team over the last few weeks, others in the squad haven’t had that luxury.
They will be desperate not only to impress their manager, but also in some cases play for their immediate futures. Following this match, there’s only one more game for the U23s in January – a trip to Leicester City on January 25th.
Take Baningime, for example. A move away from Goodison Park, either on loan for now or permanently, seems to be for the best for all parties – but he’s not had the recent minutes to showcase his talents.
Con Ouzounidis is another who will be seeking a transfer, after speaking earlier this month to reveal that he would be open to either a temporary or permanent switch.
Josh Bowler finds himself in a slightly different situation having been denied a move in the summer through injury, but will be hoping to play some part against Liverpool and secure a loan.
Decisions still need to be made on a number of other players, too.
Ellis Simms is approaching the stage, if he hasn’t reached it already, where first team football would be of huge benefit to him – as it has been for the likes of Jarrad Branthwaite and Anthony Gordon recently.
Will he get that at Everton with Dominic Calvert-Lewin, Richarlison and Cenk Tosun currently preferred in that central striking role in Carlo Ancelotti’s side?
Then you come to players such as Ryan Astley, who have six months remaining on their current contracts with the club. Decisions will soon need to made on his future.
Even if a player isn’t looking for a loan, they will be desperate to impress Unsworth and show the manager that they can be ready for the next step.
Einar Iversen and Onyango in particular have stepped up in that sense in recent months, while Thierry Small’s first steps at this level have also been hugely impressive.
In some ways, there could even be an outside shout of some first team fringe players being given a chance to try and earn themselves a move away.
Yannick Bolasie and Muhamed Besic are not in Ancelotti’s Premier League squad and leaving Goodison seems inevitable. Could an appearance in the shop window be considered for the pair?
In all of this, there will be a lot for Unsworth to be juggling – along with wanting the best for his side.
Rivalry is part of it, and there’s little doubt the boss will be wanting his team to go out and get revenge for his early season defeat.
But, regardless of the situation any of his players will be in, they will face an important match. There’s going to be someone they will want to impress.
This is a big game, but not just because it’s a mini-derby.