Silva Counting In All His Stars

by Paul McNamara

Marco Silva says every member of Everton’s squad will have a valuable role to play with the Premier League campaign poised to gather pace.

Manager Silva is keenly anticipating the availability of international midfielders Andre Gomes and James McCarthy after the duo stepped up their respective fitness bids by safely navigating a practice match at USM Finch Farm last week.

Gomes is recovering from a hamstring problem, while Republic of Ireland player McCarthy is in the latter stages of his rehabilitation from a double leg fracture suffered in January.

Colombian defender Yerry Mina, signed on August’s deadline day from Barcelona, also came through the specially arranged training game without any issues to move closer to an Everton debut.

Silva also expects to employ the knowhow of stellar defensive pair Leighton Baines and Phil Jagielka at various junctures this season.

Everton will be targeting a third Premier League win on the spin when Crystal Palace visit Goodison Park on Sunday – after signing off for the international break with successive victories over Fulham and Leicester City.

“Andre Gomes is working hard and doing well, he is a quality player and can give us very good things,” said Silva, who brought in the Portuguese 2016 European Championship winner on a season-long loan from Barcelona ahead of this campaign.

“We need to have patience with him because we needed to get him into a good physical condition. He is working to achieve that and now it is games he needs.

“But he is getting closer to his best level and the next step will be the games.

“I know about the quality of James McCarthy. He is strong, strong in the challenge as well and that is something we need in some moments in our middle zone.

“He has a different profile from some of our other midfielders and his quality in different situations will be important.

“He is working hard to achieve a good physical condition.”

World Cup star Mina is set to add depth to Everton's defensive resources, which will be further boosted when fellow centre-back Jagielka completes his recovery from the knee problem which has sidelined him for the past month.

Left-back Baines, meanwhile, is in a straight shootout for his spot in the team with France international Lucas Digne, whose excellent club form following his transfer from Barcelona won him a recall into his World Cup-winning national squad this month.

And Silva insists Baines and Jagielka – both in their 12th seasons at Goodison Park and with a combined 787 appearances and 56 goals for the Club – add vital knowhow and competitive spirit to his squad.

Everton’s schedule before the next international break includes trips to Manchester United and Chelsea. When the Premier League reconvenes in late November Silva’s side will embark on a run of eight fixtures before the turn of the year.

"Baines and Jagielka are working hard to achieve what they want, which is to play in our starting XI," added Silva.

“They are good examples in our dressing room and really important for us as a club.

“Leighton did well in some moments when he played and then Lucas had an opportunity and did well. After that it is a matter of competition [between the pair].

“That competition is what I want and I am sure our club can grow in this way – getting better every time.

“They are always ready to help the team, whether they are playing or not, and are big influences in the dressing room.

"We need the experienced players in our club and Jags and Leighton are important because they have been here a number of years."

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