Everton have just beaten Salford City 3-0 in the Carabao Cup at Goodison Park but have lost another central defender to injury as Jarrad Branthwaite is hurt.
It’s getting to be something of a habit this as Branthwaite now joins Mason Holgate as the second Everton defender to be hurt at the start of this campaign.
This is a very irritating thing to see as this game represented a good chance for him to re-establish himself as a contender for a starting place in the first team. And it means the Toffees are now down to just two experienced centre-backs.
We don’t know how serious it is, but the injury to the young Englishman will now mean that the Blues will now almost certainly have to intensify their search for central defensive cover before the transfer window closes.
Turning to the match and this was in the end a pretty routine win for the Toffees. Although Salford City worked hard and stayed in the game until late on, the home team hit the woodwork repeatedly and really could and should have won by five or six goals at least.
Carlo Ancelotti picked an almost completely new team from the one that had beaten Spurs so well last Sunday in the Premier League.
There was no place for any of the magnificent trio of new signings and indeed Colombian superstar James Rodriguez didn’t even feature in the squad.
In fact the only player who started that game at the Tottenham Stadium and tonight’s cup clash, was Micheal Keane. And it was his centre-back partner Branthwaite departed early on to be replaced by Lucas Digne.
Everton had actually scored early on as Keane headed in a Gylfi Sigurdsson corner within ten minutes. But to their credit Salford were still very much in the game and could have equalised.
In the second half the League Two outfit continued to resist bravely as the Blues pressed for more, peppering the Salford goal with shots.
In fact Everton managed more than 30 attempts on goal in the match, but too many were wide of the mark as the Toffees were wasteful and it looked as though the game might finish just 1-0.
Then the lively Anthony Gordon put in a cross that Sigurdsson turned home for the second goal. Finally to wrap it up Moise Kean took responsibility and successfully took a penalty after Gordon had been fouled in the box, for a final score of 3-0.
There was still time for yet another chance as both Kean and Gordon managed to hit the woodwork in succession late on.
So what did we learn for this match? Well several of the young players who did line up in the team tonight won’t have done themselves any harm in the longer-term.
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Probably the most impressive player was Niels Nkounkou. He looked bright and sharp all night, defending well and was creative too. He’s quick, powerful and looks very assured.
The young teenage left-back signed this summer from Marseille looks a real find and I think he has a good future at Goodison Park, he might even get a chance in the first-team this season.
In fact he could be a shout to play as the left-sided centre-back given all the current injuries there..?
Another player who gave a decent account of himself was Gordon. He played well second half and got forward and linked up effectively with Nkounkou several times. He also managed an assist as well.
In the end though all that matters is that Everton are through to the next round of the league cup and now go to Fleetwood Town next week.