Club Focus – Everton – Vaughan returns from Crystal Palace to give Toffees another striking choice

The end of James Vaughan’s loan spell at Championship club Crystal Palace has provided Everton manager David Moyes with a much-needed extra option to call on as part of his beleaguered strike force, but whether the youngest goalscorer in Everton’s history can boost the Blues’ meagre goal tally remains to be seen.

Vaughan has been part of the Goodison Park fabric for more than five years now, having burst on to the scene with a goal against his former loan employers Palace in April 2005. Netting the fourth goal in a 4-1 home for the Toffees, Vaughan’s energising style was an instant hit with the home supporters. Constantly harrying and harassing the opponents, Vaughan was then – and still is now – a bustling nuisance for centre-backs to defend against and never shirked a challenge, aerially or otherwise, and that is part of what has hampered the 22-year-old’s development.

A string of injuries has prevented Vaughan from truly establishing himself at the club for who he first appeared aged 17, then the youngest debutant in Everton’s history. A knee injury and the resulting complications, a severed artery in his foot sustained during a match at Bolton Wanderers after a full-blooded challenge, a dislocated shoulder and more than 18 months out with various problems have restricted Vaughn to 46 appearances in an Everton shirt since his first in 2005. Indeed, Vaughan had to wait until December 2006 for a second league goal, 18 months after his first. In total, the Birmingham-born forward has scored only seven times for Everton, with a career high of four in 2006/07.

There have also been interruptions for loan spells, with Vaughan spending time at both Derby County and Leicester City before his recent spell at Selhurst Park. Goals were not plentiful for either Derby or Leicester either, scoring just once for both sides, but of more importance, considering his injury-hit career, was the amount of games the striker played. A first spell with Derby ended after two games due to a torn cartilage but the Rams were impressed enough to re-sign the player when the injury healed, while Leicester got eight games from Vaughan at the tail end of last season. Vaughan’s time with Crystal Palace saw a red card and a hat-trick, and with five goals Vaughan is the most prolific centre-forward on Everton’s books.

A spot on the bench should not be beyond Vaughan’s reach, especially given the suffering of Everton’s other forwards this season. The game against Wigan Athletic saw Louis Saha start and Jermaine Beckford come off the bench and neither really impressed, Beckford looking lively but lacking the nous to stay onside – Saha having more technique but less threat to a vulnerable Wigan defence. There is also Yakubu, currently out of Moyes’ favour, and Vaughan’s fellow youth team product Victor Anichebe, but his immediate future lies on the right wing. Vaughan could prove a useful substitute to unsettle City’s sturdy defence late in the game.

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