With silly season upon us, Roberto Martinez is talking of the need for 7 or 8 signings to strengthen the squad. He wants 27 or 28 players to form a squad that can challenge on 4 fronts. Who from the current retained list can force their way into Roberto’s plans? Are there any youngsters ready to make the step up?

Here is a run down of the current squad to open up debate on the shape of the squad for next season and where additions are needed. Of the youngsters I have mentioned a good pre season will be essential in order to stake their claims. Here I will look at the defence.


Tim Howard - probably his best season so far. Very few mistakes and his absence through suspension seemed to highlight his importance to the team. Verdict: Key player.

Joel Robles - Extremely shaky first season. I was encouraged by his signing having seen him on a few occasions for Wigan, but has certainly not inspired confidence in his displays. Possibly the one area of the squad we have not strengthened under Roberto. However Roberto paid money for him, so expect him to be first choice cup goalkeeper.
Verdict: Will get game time in cup competitions but needs to perform better to cement his Goodison future and be considered a serious challenger for no. 1.

Mateusz Taudul - I’m not sure if a third goalkeeper is high up on Roberto’s wish list, but given that Mason Springthorpe has been released then this young Pole seems to be the only serious contender for it from within the club. His fledgling career to date seems to have been interrupted through injuries but has always been highly thought of from within the club. Given that I once thought Richard Wright would be Everton’s first choice for years I would prefer to reserve judgement.
Verdict: Needs a good pre season.

Right backs

Seamus Coleman - Player of the season and deservedly so. Probably only Zabaletta can claim to be reaching Seamus’ level in the country.
Verdict: Key player.

Tony Hibbert - Not featured under Martinez and few would expect him to be Martinez’s type of player, however given his importance around Finch farm he has been given a new contract. Tony’s attributes have been debated regularly enough over the years, however few would argue he is not a worthy backup.
Verdict: merits a squad place although it maybe his last season.

JonJoe Kenny - Looks like a prospect although it may be a season or two too early yet. Expect him to feature regularly for U21 and then perhaps loaned out before being ready to challenge for a first team position.
Verdict: to continue his development at a lower level for the time being as cover for this position can be provided by others.

Left backs

Leighton Baines - ditto Seamus Coleman. Now England’s first choice I expect him to emerge a more confident and assued player as a result. Last season may have dipped slightly below his high standards but still our classiest player in every sense of the word. Will we see Leighton in a new position this season to accommodate young pretenders? Seems unlikely now that Ashley is out of the way.
Verdict: World class.

Bryan Oviedo - Despite having one of the world’s best in front of him he is fast reaching cult status. Expect him to be deployed further forward to get game time.
Verdict: Adored by Goodison faithful will hopefully become an important squad player.

Luke Garbutt - Better than Baines was at the same age? It was hard not to be impressed by his U21 debut surely he now needs exposure at a higher level. If he deems Luke good enough, can Roberto find a way to give him game time given the quality of the competition in this position?
Verdict: Looks ready for more first team exposure. However arguably the most difficult positon to break into at Everton at the moment. Maybe amother loan?

Centre backs

Phil Jagielka - Mr Everton in my opinion. Hearing how Roberto described how he took Stones under his wing while injured speaks volumes about the guy’s class. There have been question marks this season though. A new playing style has tested the centre backs more than any other position and Phil has been exposed at times. Injuries have not helped his cause I have always thought he gets better as the season goes on (in the mould of most old school proper defenders). I think he is still our best defender and talk of Stones replacing him is a little premature in my opinion.
Verdict: Key player.

Sylvain Distin - Freak of nature, gets better with age. Forget about his age the guy is still the quickest around and his decision making is better than ever. I think he can play at the highest level for years yet as long as he retains his enthusiasm and he does not succumb to injuries.
Verdict: Key player; ignore the birth certificate.

John Stones - oozes class. Could play anywhere on the pitch in my opinion natural footballer and epitomizes the modern centre half. Like many I’m sure he will be first choice for many years but he is still on steep learning curve (he was a right back when we signed him!). He worries me when the ball is in the air and does not attack the ball as much as his 2 more experienced colleagues.
Verdict: Bright future to continue his development in cup competitions and as cover in league games.

Antolin Alcaraz - Felt sorry for him at times seemed to be injured or thrown in at the deep end in his first season. Good in possession but frightening at times the polar opposite to Jagielka.
Verdict: Certain to be in the squad but hopefully outings are limited.

Shane Duffy - Big season for Shane. He can no longer be classified as a youngster. I’m sure he would have been closely watched at Yeovil and assessed as to whether he can adapt to Roberto’s style. Expect this to continue during pre season. An old fashioned get your head on it type but surely must have learnt to play football during all his years in the academy?
Verdict: Probably a decent championship or average premiership footballer there but pre season should enlighten us to his Everton future.

Tyias Browning - Well thought of within the academy, may well develop into a first team player. Being on the bench for the last few games of the season may indicate Roberto thinks he is ready for a step up. Expect to see him in pre season. I am sure if he passes that test then there is bound to be some game time for him in some cup ties.
Verdict: Ready to stake a claim, but still young enough to return to U21s or go on loan.

I have not considered the merits of McLaughlin and Pennington as I do not think they are ready to step up yet, although I have not seen or heard too much about them. Any thoughts on these two?

I think defensively we are strong in terms of quality and numbers. Lescott’s name has been mentioned but I do not think he would improve the first team and wage demands would prevent him from being a squad member.

In Part II, I will submit my analysis on midfielders and forwards.

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Reader Comments (34)

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Mike Allison
1 Posted 28/05/2014 at 08:25:01
Not much to disagree with in your assessments, Carl.

Robles simply needs to be told never to punch the ball and to catch everything. He's so tall he's never going to be under serious pressure from anyone except Crouch, Traore and anyone of that height.

I wouldn't move Baines's position; that seems like folly to me. Garbutt should be given a loan to a serious Championship club or even a lower half Premier League club if Baines and Oviedo are expected to stay fit. I have mentioned elsewhere the possibility of Oviedo in a central midfield position, which would make Garbutt the backup left-back. This is more of a hunch than anything though.

Alcaraz is a question mark. He needs to play regularly and then I think we'll see his class. I think him and Stones could form a good partnership in the Europa League and League Cup. Duffy seems to be considered inadequate in possession. If this is the case, I can't see a future for him, despite some obvious strengths as an out-and-out defender.

I think we need a new attacking right-back, an Oviedo for that side. Obviously Seamus will remain first choice, but the '28' suggests lots of players getting game time and long term thinking even at the start of the season so plenty of rotation between different competitions. Browning is currently playing right back for England U20s and Pennington played there regularly for Tranmere, scoring a decent goal (although I haven't seen it) in the last game, so they may be options.

Malcolm Joyner
2 Posted 28/05/2014 at 09:04:14
Is not the Prem squad limited to 25 as well as the Europa? If so, I guess we shall see different squads for League, Domestic Cups and Europa.

The less I see of Robles in any competition the longer my heart will hold out. He is undoubtedly the worst keeper I have seen in my 25 years as a match-goer. He simply can't catch the ball!

Sam Hoare
3 Posted 28/05/2014 at 11:26:24
All pretty sound though a few comments.

GK Russell Griffiths was captain of the U-18 side and performed well. Probably needs another few years of development but worth a mention. Not sure about Robles... Pantilimon from City has been released.

RB we are a bit thin here if Coleman gets injured. I would think Stones or even Browning might be preferred to Hibbert even though they are both better off at CB.

LB Think Garbutt should be off on loan to the Championship until one of Baines or Oviedo gets injured.

CB - I reckon Alcaraz is better than he seemed at the end of the season. If he stays fit, he will be a decent cover option. I reckon Martinez will favour Browning over Duffy and the big lad will be off to a Championship team on loan or permanently. Also I believe Pennington is more of a right-back or certainly has been whilst on loan this season.

Kevin Gillen
4 Posted 28/05/2014 at 09:46:47
Malcolm at (2) - I've seen some terrible keepers down the years starting with Lawson and Davies and ending with Gerrard. I think Robles could be a good keeper; he did well in some of the games he played in and at one point was apparently ahead of De Gea in Spain's goalkeeping fraternity. I agree he sometimes can't catch the ball, mind.
Mike Allison
5 Posted 28/05/2014 at 12:19:16
Kevin, we wouldn't know if he can or can't because he doesn't try, even when there's no-one around him.

Malcolm, the squad limit of 25 is not absolute. I think the rule is still that you can have unlimited players under the age of 21, hence Barkley and Stones wouldn't need to be named in the 25 and could still play.

Andrew Ellams
6 Posted 28/05/2014 at 12:55:16
Mike is correct which is why very few clubs name 25. Although I do think the under-21s have to be homegrown which rules out a few at Man City, Chelsea etc.
Wayne Smyth
7 Posted 28/05/2014 at 13:35:35
I don't see Hibbert being good enough as backup for Seamus. He's no good going forward, his distribution is poor, and he's undoubtedly lost a yard of pace too.

Given how much we rely on our fullbacks to contribute to our attacking play, I think it would be a mistake for him to be our second choice fullback. Pity he's not a couple of inches taller, as he might make a decent centre-half, based on his performance against Man Utd a few seasons ago.

Alcaraz is not as bad as a few of his performances have suggested. Don't forget that Jags and Distin often have dodgy moments too. We really need to see him play more often and when fully fit... but I'd probably not offer him a new contract based on his injury issues, so he's really only an option for us next season.

I would have to disagree about Lescott. I think he'd strengthen us at centre-half. Probably more suited to Martinez's style of play than Distin, and would provide genuine quality and European experience. The kind of strength and depth we could've done with this season when our defenders all got crocked.

I can't see Lescott earning big bucks anywhere; hopefully like Barry he's earned so much now he's more interested in regular football somewhere than getting 80k or 100k / week.

Equally, I think an approach for someone like Jamaal Lascelles, who could be our long-term partner for Stones, would work well and provide the cover we need to complement our experienced defenders.

Mike Gaynes
8 Posted 28/05/2014 at 17:50:35
Great summary, Carl. I have the same concern about Robles that others have mentioned, but bad hands is a curable disease if he works hard enough at it, and he's an outstanding athlete. And I think Stones is excellent cover for Coleman at right back he was sensational against Juventus in the preseason and looked fine during his few minutes there this year. If our other three centre backs stay healthier this season, RB would be a great way to get Stones on the field more often.

Regarding Lescott, no chance... as I've said before, he's burned his bridges here and pissed in the ashes. And I think there are plenty of bucks and plenty of minutes waiting for him at West Ham or Villa. We can offer neither, even if we were interested. Which we aren't.

Si Cooper
9 Posted 28/05/2014 at 18:38:09
Regarding Baines, Oviedo and Garbutt at left back, I think you could easily see Oviedo used further forward and Baines more centrally at times next season. That should give Garbutt enough controlled exposure to bring him on.
Alex Carry
10 Posted 28/05/2014 at 18:49:08
I think in my opinion Hibbs has past it, he doesnt have enough pace to keep up with the wingers in today's Premier League, pure Toffee legend but I think maybe a coaching role or something along those lines would suit better...
Terry White
11 Posted 28/05/2014 at 19:25:41
Mike Gaines, #8, I was at the Juventus game. We played 3 at the back with Stones the right side of that 3. Coleman also started the game as an advanced wing back so I really don't think we can judge Stones as a right back cover based upon that pre-season game. Having said which, he came to us as a right back and so should be able to cover there for Coleman in need.
Lee Courtliff
12 Posted 28/05/2014 at 19:58:48
Every Burnley fan raves on and on about how good Kieran Trippier is at RB. Some even believe he should be in the England squad. I think that's a bit far-fetched but he might be one to keep an eye on this season.
Paul Andrews
13 Posted 28/05/2014 at 20:30:53

Good player, 1 year left on his contract. He wouldn't get in the side before Seamus, but fits the bill for a Roberto player.

Peter Bell
14 Posted 28/05/2014 at 21:35:32
Alex @10

Can you elaborate for me on what Hibbert has done to achieve the status of "Pure Toffee Legend".

James Stewart
15 Posted 28/05/2014 at 22:31:41
Robles is a joke and we need a better backup keeper; if Howard gets injured, we would be up shit creek.

I wouldnt agree Stones is backup. In fact, I would say he is fast becoming our No 1 CB. Distin and Jagielka offer the same thing; our win rate with Stones compared to without him will see him start the season in the team and rightly so.

Mack Roche
16 Posted 29/05/2014 at 00:53:29
Robles was a bad purchase IMO as well as everyone who came from Wigan minus James McCarthy. Westwood is available on a free from Sunderland; while he has struggled with injuries, he would be a good pick-up if we could off-load Robles.

I would much rather see a Martins Indi in as CB than Lescott as he would pair together with Stones for years.

Karl Graham
17 Posted 29/05/2014 at 03:18:11
To be fair I'm happy with goalkeepers and defence and would prefer the money to be spent elsewhere. Maybe at the end of next season, reassess as Hibbert, Distin and Alcaraz will all be out of contract and the wrong side of 30.

At left back, either Baines pushed into central midfield, or Oviedo onto the wing, should create opportunities for Garbutt. Right back you've got Hibbert as a backup and youngsters McLaughlin and Kenny also Browning, Stones and Pennington have knowledge of the position.

Centre-back there are three (Jagielka, Distin and Alcaraz) experienced options and four (Duffy, Stones, Browning and Pennington) youngsters with some experience. Howard is still number 1; Robles is an adequate backup in my opinion and Taudul needs to be ready but is ultimately unlikely to be used.

Tony Cheek
18 Posted 29/05/2014 at 08:28:02
Good assessment, Carl. Up until last season, I always said we would never win anything with Howard in goal. But I think he has had his best season with us. I really think the manager and trainer team change has brought the best out of him, as it has done with several others.

We are very strong at left back with three very reliable players. I do hope we see Oviedo playing next season, maybe in front of Baines? I also think we might see Hibbo feature in some Europa League games. I don't think he would have got a contract if Martinez didn't think he could do a job!

I really hope we can keep hold of Stones, although I fear the worst here. For me, he is the future of this club and I will be gutted if he goes! But now Chelsea have sold Luiz, I think they might be flexing their muscles after the World Cup!

Wayne Smyth
19 Posted 29/05/2014 at 08:56:26
Tony, I think Stones will have a few more seasons with us before the vultures really start to circle. Chelsea are more likely to go for a proven defender with European competition experience.

He's shown this season he has the potential to be a top player. Next season he'll get a lot more game time and next year or the year after is when I'd expect the serious bidding to start.

I hope he ends up staying, though. One of the things I like about him the most is that confidence bordering on arrogance that all top players have. The Pirlo penalty was just absolute quality when you think about where he was at in his career last pre-season.

I can see him being our captain in a few seasons if he is still with us and probably England's first choice centre back for the Euros in 2 years.

Raymond Fox
20 Posted 29/05/2014 at 08:49:11
I really don't understand why some fans are so critical of Robles. He flapped at a few crosses in one game, something that can be soon rectified for the future, he also made some outstanding full-length saves though and I don't think there was any goal that he could be blamed for. Martinez had more than 12 months to assess him while they were at Wigan so I believe he will turn out to be a good signing.

Distin was as good as ever this season, and I think there is a least another year in him, no problem.

A lot depends on who Roberto buys or loans next season, but overall I'm satisfied with the defensive side of the squad. It's in the midfield and upfront that we need some strengthening.

Malcolm Joyner
21 Posted 29/05/2014 at 09:41:32
Raymond, you really are 'gilding the lily'!

From his very first game in the States, he looked a liability. In one of his thankfully few first team games, the ball went straight through his hands for a goal and in all the others his non-handling skills clearly gave his defenders the eebie-jeebies!

One of Roberto's blind spots, I'm afraid... and there's none so blind...

Wayne Smyth
22 Posted 29/05/2014 at 11:06:49
Raymond, if it's any consolation, I'm in agreement that Robles will eventually turn out to be better than people expect. Lots of players look crap early on. Baines's first season wasn't great if I remember rightly, and Jags looked a liability (and still does on occasion).

Robles certainly needs to catch the ball more rather than punch, and perhaps improve on his communication. I actually think the main thing he needs is game time. I'd not be surprised to see an experienced backup for Howard come in to allow Robles to go out on loan.

I was sad to see us not go for Schmeichel at Leicester. He looked quality whenever I saw him, exactly like his dad.

Malcolm Joyner
23 Posted 29/05/2014 at 11:55:21
Now you are talking about real goalkeepers, Wayne!
Tony Draper
24 Posted 29/05/2014 at 12:13:48
My view of Robles is that he has excellent reflexes and that can't be coached. Then, oddly, he regularly kicks from hands and goes long. This is a guy familiar with Roberto's style AND Inaki Bergara's coaching too....! These aspects can be coached.

Robles's first reaction to crosses is to go up with fists (isn't this one of two criticisms of Howard?).

Pantilimon, or Fabianski (gone to Swansea now) could surely have been offered opportunities with us? After all, we have 4 trophies to pursue this season and given Roberto's preference for "resting" first choice players in the cups (and I'll guess the early stages of the Europa), our No 2 'keeper won't be a benchwarmer next season but a true squad player.

I agree with many on TW that TH has had a great season (possibly his best) for us and does seem to have improved under Bergara.

Raymond Fox
25 Posted 29/05/2014 at 12:32:40
Malcolm, I can see that you're adamant that he'll not make the grade and I respect your judgement I just beg to differ.

We'll have to wait and see how he turns out in the future.

John Crawley
26 Posted 29/05/2014 at 12:46:14
Speaking of goalkeepers, I've been impressed every time I have seen Russell Griffiths play for the Under-18s. He looks a good all-round goalie and has excellent distribution as well. One for the future, hopefully...
Paul Andrews
27 Posted 29/05/2014 at 13:13:38

One of the best performances from a goalkeeper at any level in the recent final game against Man City. Going all the way, this lad.

John Crook
28 Posted 29/05/2014 at 15:42:50
With regards to Robles, I am not a fan of when players play competition-specific roles! Yes, Robles needs games to improve but why leave him to play against the likes of Stevanage and specifically only cup games.

In my opinion it should be that Robles should play 10 to 15 games next season across all 4 competitions we are involved in. Robles should play in the easier league games as well as the easier cup games with Howard always named for the big games (such as Arsenal away in the cup last year where Robles really struggled).

Carl Rutherford
29 Posted 29/05/2014 at 23:07:39
I share many of the concerns about Robles, but I am sure he won't ditched after just one season. He looked like a rabbit caught in the headlights in most games this season hopefully he can settle down this season because he was one of the better performers at Wigan, I still think there might be a decent keeper in there somewhere.

If we were on the lookout for a keeper to challenge Howard (and I suspect we are not) I would look at Fraser Forster at Celtic. Great presence and I am sure a move to the premier league is not far away.

It's pleasing to hear we have a promising youngster on the horizon; I haven't seen anything of Russell Griffiths yet but look forward to watching his development. Goalkeepers are extremely difficult to judge as youngsters with many who look like potential world beaters as teenagers disappearing without a trace.

James Stewart
30 Posted 29/05/2014 at 23:41:42
Anyone who thinks Robles will be a good keeper in the long run re-watch the Arsenal cup game and tell me the same after with a straight face.
David Ellis
31 Posted 30/05/2014 at 08:35:53
I really liked Tony Hibbert but the game has changed and his skill set is no longer appropriate to the modern right back role that our formation demands. Nor is Stones. We need cover for Seamus.
Jim Potter
32 Posted 30/05/2014 at 09:31:22
Carl - to me you summed them up in an excellent manner.

We need a central defender. I think we have enough cover elsewhere for now. Robles is currently a concern... but, as stated above, coaching can assist his catching.

Hibbo is nearing the end. A great servant to the club and a top Evertonian.

Mark Frere
33 Posted 30/05/2014 at 19:13:23
A good read, Carl, but I don't agree McCarthy and Gibson are similar players at all. McCarthy is all about work-rate, covering every blade of grass, making vital tackles and passing it simple without giving the ball away.

Gibson on the other hand, is not anyway near as mobile as McCarthy (who is?) but he sits deep and has an excellent range of passing....would be a perfect partner for McCarthy if he could by some miracle could stay fit for most of the season. The two of them have very different attributes.

With all the extra games next season, two more central midfielders are imperative. Hopefully Barry will be one of them.

This Transfer Window is of massive importance...we've lost 3 big players in Lukaku, Barry and Deulofeu...and with all the extra games, RM will have to work some magic on limited funds

Justin Harvey
35 Posted 03/06/2014 at 10:38:59
I agree that we look a little weak at right back. Hibbo is past his best and despite being signed as a right back Stones doesn't fill me with confidence there. a serious injury to seamus and we may have to play a left back on the right.

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