Everton are now entering the part of the campaign that puts the most stress on the squad. The number of matches tick up, with eight matches in the month of December, which includes seven PL and one cup match. The Toffees have remianed relatively unscathed in the injury department, which manager Sean Dyche will hope to remain that way.
However, striker Dominic Calvert-Lewin has missed the last two matches along star midfielder Amadou Onana being unavailable recently. The club will wait for those shorter-term absences to resolve themselves, but another injured players' return should have much attention. That player is club captain Seamus Coleman.
The 35-year-old Irishman has not played for Everton since May 1st of last season, playing 45 minutes in a draw against now Championship side Leicester City. According to The Athletic, Coleman underwent knee surgery in May but is expected to return this season. The specificity of the injury was released by Everton is September, stating Coleman "sustained a medial knee ligament injury."
There are good signals regarding Coleman's return as he has been picked as a substitute in the last two matches. He was then inserted into the starting XI against Newcastle. The longtime Evertonian's return to playing could not come sooner due to the poor play at the right fullback position, specifically the performances of Ashley Young.
Young ranks in low percentiles across several areas for top European league fullbacks including 31st percentile in cross accuracy, 34th percentile in defensive duel %, and 46th percentile in defensive actions. In addition, he is tied for first in the Premier League in errors leading to a goal with two. Opposing attackers consistenly look for him to exploit and create scoring chances.
It has come to my surprise that Young is first choice over young Scottish defender Nathan Patterson. Patterson is young and prone to mistakes, but I'd rather give him minutes to work out his faults and develop rather than play a 38-year-old free agent signing who is a constant liability and is regressing. It's not like Patterson has not shown improvement from last season either.
Despite Coleman re-entering the team, Young still finds a place as a starter as James Garner missed out against Newcastle due to an illness. Onana is still unavailable, so Dyche had to be creative for the mid-week clash. The Toffees will look to improve on form at Goodison Park against a strong Magpies side.