Club Focus – Everton – Young guns get a run out

The transfer of FC Schalke youngster Lewis Holtby looks to be on the back burner this week after the 19 year-old declared his love for the club and a willingness to stay.

The rumours spread about his transfer to Everton due to financial difficulties for the German side, but Holtby has insisted this week he needs to “try and get a permanent place in the first team” before he can look at moving to the Premier League. Everton fans are also still waiting on the signing of Landon Donovan as the rumour mill winds on and the skilful American has declared “I feel that is a place where I would feel very comfortable” . This will be welcome news for all Everton supporters as they tend to struggle in transfer window. The 27 year-old who also had a loan spell at Bayern Munich this year has scored 42 goals for the U.S.A in whopping 120 appearances. The former Bayer Leverkusen player currently plays alongside David Beckham at L.A Galaxy where he averages one every two games – this experience and eye for goal from a central or wide midfield position will certainly ease Everton’s injury worries and his flexibility in midfield will allow Moyes to regularly choose his strongest XI for every game.

The signing of Donovan is also pivotal as key players will be missing for most of January due to the African Cup of Nations. It will also comfort the Toffee faithful that David Moyes and his team are planning for a period where they will be without favoured attacker Yakubu Aiyegbeni, speedy winger Steven Pienaar and the solid Joseph Yobo due to this competition. Yobo – although is currently injured is expected back in January. Many clubs with bigger squads such as Chelsea can cope better with the loss of players such as Didier Drogba and Michael Essien than the Toffee men can – and Moyes will need to make at least three loan signings to cover the loss of the African players. Another reason for this is Everton’s current injury predicament, without a full squad to choose from all season the Scottish tactician may also need to make one or two big signings to beef up what is left of a very thin squad.

The emergence of several excellent youth players at Goodison over the last few weeks also means the Everton boss can rely on these players – who would otherwise go unused to strengthen his side. He made his feelings clear this week on how much he trusts his youth team by indicating five players will make their debuts against Bate Borisov in the Europa League on Thursday. Granted the Blues are already through to the last 32 of this competition, however it still shows that he has belief that all of these players can perform at a high level. This is reminiscent of another fellow Scottish manager over ten years ago – blooding several youth players at once and going on to win the League. Moyes will not have as grand a hope as that but realises it is the only way to build a future at a club that has little in the way of resources and spending power at the moment.

Everton are one of the teams that haven’t played in the Premiership this week due to Europa League duties allowing Moyes’s first choice XI rest in anticipation of the visit of Birmingham at home this Sunday. The midlanders have now won five on the bounce and Moyes will certainly point out the key man as in-form Lee Bowyer who has scored five from midfield this year. The other consistent performers for Alex McLeish’s men over the last two months have been centre-backs: Roger Johnson and Scott Dann who have conceded on average only one per game in the seventeen starts so far this season. This tough fixture arrives in the most important month of any football season. December holds more Premier League matches than any other month and therefore there are fewer days between games with most clubs playing twice a week towards the end of the month. A good Christmas period could see Everton pull clear of the relegation pack and with games against Birmingham, Sunderland and Burnley on the horizon the Blues will hope to come through with almost maximum points.

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