Garner pushing for first Premier League start

12/04/2023 36comments  |  Jump to last

Now recovered from a long lay-off with a back injury, James Garner says he is ready to finally stake a claim in Everton's first team, some eight months after he arrived at the club from Manchester United.

The 22-year-old was signed in a deal that could eventually be worth £15m following an impressive season on loan at Nottingham Forest whom he helped get promoted back into the Premier League for the first time since the turn of the century.

However, a combination of his relative youth and the presence in the midfield of Amadou Onana and Idrissa Gueye meant that he was restricted to just one start in the League Cup before he picked up an injury that sidelined him in November.

A couple of run-outs for the Under-21s, an international appearance for England U21s and now two appearances off the bench against Tottenham and his former club, Manchester United, have got him to the point where he feels ready to play 90 minutes.

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That decision now lies with Sean Dyche who is looking for ways to compensate for the loss to suspension of Abdoulaye Doucouré for two more matches. Garner was many fans' choice to come into a re-jigged line-up due to his comfort on the ball and eye for a pass and he will be hoping that this weekend's clash with Fulham will offer him the chance to shine.

I’m getting stronger every week, and training every day, which helps,” Garner told evertontv in an interview over the weekend. “The last two games, I’ve come on. So I’m getting stronger each week and I’m just pushing now for that start.

“I had a little bit of a stress fracture, and I was out for three months or so. I’ve never had an injury like that, so for me it was tough. I’m back fit now and I’m raring to go."

The midfielder was asked about the impact that Dyche has had on the team and he admitted that the change has been a good one which has been reflected in the performances over the past 10 weeks.

“It’s been pretty refreshing, to be fair,” he explained. “He’s brought in some new ideas and a new way of playing, and I think you can see with some of the results we’ve been getting.

“We’ve been going toe-to-toe with some of the best teams in the league. [Saturday at Old Trafford] was obviously a tough day, but, overall, it’s been good."

Dyche has already spoken in good terms about Garner but he admitted that the Birkenhead-born player needs time to adapt to top-flight football.

“He is a new player to [the Premier League],” Dyche said in the Liverpool Echo. “From what I saw — and I did see him quite a bit at Forest — he’s got a good engine and running strength. He can strike a very good ball, he is calm in possession, and he will cover the yards.

“Getting to that true sharpness is the next step but his knowledge of the Premier League is limited just by the fact he has played a lot in the Championship.

“The Premier League is different. But I saw a lot of him at Forest and I think he is a very good player. And I think that now that he is fit again and, hopefully, stays fit, he will continue to sharpen through the training we put on and the day-to-day work that we do.”

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Reader Comments (36)

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Mike Gaynes
1 Posted 12/04/2023 at 06:43:32
Give him his shot, Sean. He can fill the Doucourê role with the two holding mids behind him.
Tony Waring
2 Posted 12/04/2023 at 09:42:01
I did'nt realise he was born on Merseyside. How did we miss him first time around ?
Jim Wilson
3 Posted 12/04/2023 at 09:45:55
Agree Mike - We need the extra man in midfield and he ticks the boxes. Play him!
Si Pulford
4 Posted 12/04/2023 at 09:50:49
I’ve not seen much of him but my mate who’s a forest season ticket holder says he can play a few positions but is essentially a midfielder who can play centrally in a two, further up or- (whilst he’s obviously not at the level of …) the profile of player he can develop into is a Carrick or Alonso. A deep lying player that dictates and can play the quarter back type role. So not a number 10 but still with the ability to be creative. So if that’s his best position he would still need Gueye and Onana to provide the grit and defensive cover allowing him to get on the ball and dictate play. For what it’s worth my mate couldn’t believe we got him, especially at the price we paid and was convinced he’d have a great season. Obviously injury and selection hampered that but hopefully he still has a part to play.
Eddie Dunn
5 Posted 12/04/2023 at 10:01:20
This kid can control a ball and pass, which is an upgrade on Doucoure, who has put in lots of effort but his passing and ball control is suspect.
Rob Dolby
6 Posted 12/04/2023 at 10:13:03
Tony 2, we didn't miss him. We are 4th choice in our own back yard for attracting kids. He has been with United for years.

He looks brave on the ball to me and worth a start. My only doubt is his physicality compared to Doucoure. Dyche has set up the team to be hard runners off the ball can he do that?

Tony Everan
7 Posted 12/04/2023 at 10:25:49
Perfect opportunity for James Garner to stake his claim to be starting matches. Get him in Sean, give him his chance, and let’s see what he can do at this higher level.
Dave Abrahams
8 Posted 12/04/2023 at 10:51:21
Rob (6),

Yes, there is a big physical difference between the two players and we missed Doucouré versus Man Utd as we will for the next two games. I think Garner's natural ability plus his free-kicks, if given the opportunity, and possibly corner kicks will lessen the loss of Doucoure and also less risk of silly fouls and not-so-good passing.

If only Onana had been suspended… I wish! I think Garner would have slotted into Onana's place and would have been a great addition to the team alongside Gana with Doucouré staying in place. Oh well… it's no use crying over spilt milk!!

Tony Abrahams
9 Posted 12/04/2023 at 11:26:05
I haven't seen enough of James Garner but, when I have, he hasn't got involved enough for me. Sure, he wants the ball, but he doesn't go looking for it enough and it doesn't look like he wants to drive forward with the ball either.

I hope I'm wrong, especially because he hasn't even had a full game, but I'd love to see him go and grasp the game. These are the type of midfielders that take any team up another level. We will see…

Eddie Dunn
10 Posted 12/04/2023 at 12:11:34

To me, he looks neat and tidy but he needs games for us to see what he has in his locker.

I hope he gets a start but Dyche might go for Davies, with all of his Premier League experience, if the manager's recent comments are to be believed.

Dave Abrahams
11 Posted 12/04/2023 at 12:30:07
Tony (9),

Let's be honest – there is still the almost complete lack of movement with players when we go on the attack.

To give Iwobi his due, for once, against Spurs, he got the ball near the half way line, looked up and saw there was nobody ahead of him so he slowed down and came inside, beat a couple of players. He was giving the other players time to move up which McNeil and Godfrey did and Iwobi made a very good pass ahead to McNeil.

Good play… but this doesn't happen nearly half as much as it should and, with Garner still relatively new to the team, it will take time for him to get used to these players and how they play. It looks to me, up to now, he's got a football brain and knows how to play football. As you say, we will see.

Colin Malone
12 Posted 12/04/2023 at 14:19:09
Hope Garner gets he's chance instead of Davies. I every confidence Sean Dyche picking the right side.

More than I can say about big Frank. Who is back at Chelsea, chosen by James Corden, What The Fuck???

Jay Harris
13 Posted 12/04/2023 at 15:01:06
Colin, I laughed when I heard that.

Chelsea obviously taking lessons from Moshiri and Kenwright. On the other hand, I'm sure Corden would do a better job than those two.

Mike Gaynes
14 Posted 12/04/2023 at 15:05:49
Tony #9,

We've seen him for 36 minutes after a five-month layoff, mate. Let's not offer conclusions about his playing style until he's been on the pitch long enough to actually get his shirt wet and his shoes dirty.

After watching him in the promotion playoffs with Forest, my assessment matched Si's -- he's a deep-laying playmaker with excellent distribution. I saw no shortage of aggression or ball-winning in his game, but you're right, he didn't gallop around the field looking for the ball. He held position around the center circle and his teammates would look to find him as first choice.

And very often good things happened from there.

Ray Roche
15 Posted 12/04/2023 at 15:31:21
Mike, I watched Garner in the England Under-21s a couple of weeks ago.

He was always available, always wanting the ball, neat and tidy and didn't waste a pass. He knew where to play his pass before he received the ball. He's worth a start in my opinion.

Tony Everan
16 Posted 12/04/2023 at 16:48:55
Ray, I watched that game and thought he did very well considering it was one of his first games back after the lay off. Always wanting to be involved and looks to be a proactive player.

I followed him at Forest, and think he will become a real asset to our midfield over the coming years. He's got an aggressive, feisty streak in him the fans will love and I think he's still on an upward curve in his game.

Amazingly we have a midfielder who can shoot and score a few goals too (don't feint) and can take a good dead ball kick too. I liked the little chip he did against Spurs, in the channel right between the defenders and the goalie, just needed a natural goalscorer to read that and they'd get a toe on it.

He will need to improve from his Championship exploits but he looks to me that he will make the step up.

Jerome Shields
17 Posted 12/04/2023 at 18:15:16
Tony #9,

He has been wheeled out for the fanson the strenght of that, or hoping no-one noticed.

Tony Abrahams
18 Posted 12/04/2023 at 18:37:30
Thanks for your own one-game assessment, Mike!
Mike Connolly
19 Posted 12/04/2023 at 18:55:06
Tony @2,

How did we miss him first time around?

Not hard, Tony, we're Everton – we miss players under our nose Antonee Robinson to name one of many

Mike Gaynes
20 Posted 12/04/2023 at 19:33:35
Tony #18, it was three! ;-)) I think that makes me an ace.

They showed both semis and the final here in the US, and I thought he was Forest's best player across the three games. The semi went to penalties and I thought he would take one because he was their free-kick specialist, but they subbed him out for Cafu just before the final whistle.

Sam Hoare
21 Posted 12/04/2023 at 19:58:27
Garner could prove decent but is a very different player to Doucouré and less likely to score a goal which is what we're lacking right now.

Though the big news today is Calvert-Lewin is back in full training and expected to play some part against Fulham. Can't imagine it will be more than a substitute appearance but, if he's anywhere near fit, we could really use him!!

Tony Abrahams
22 Posted 12/04/2023 at 20:15:18
Definitely, Mike! I was reading that Dyche has watched him quite a bit, and was saying he's got a good engine and will run and cover the yards. I just think this is so important in the game nowadays.

I see nothing wrong in players wanting the ball but I see loads more positives in players who are prepared to go and get the ball whilst also taking the game to the opposition. I was just making a personal observation that I believe it's these type of players who will help take our team onto the next level. Fingers crossed!

Ben King
23 Posted 12/04/2023 at 22:24:17

I saw Garner wanting the ball v Spurs and sprinting in play. In fact, he did this on the lead-up to Keane's wonder strike

Also, he can shout from distance: something that could be very valuable to us.

Sam Hoare
24 Posted 13/04/2023 at 04:41:05
Ben, I’m presuming you meant ‘shoot’ but having someone who can shout from distance could actually be quite useful!! Not sure communication on the pitch has been one of our strengths.
Mike Gaynes
25 Posted 13/04/2023 at 05:04:33
Sam #21, Garner is less likely to score a goal?

I think Doucouré's two goals this season have caused you to lose your head a bit.

Since joining us, Doucouré has a goal for approximately every thousand minutes on the pitch. Nobody could be less likely to score except Gana and Pickford.

Eddie Dunn
26 Posted 13/04/2023 at 07:20:39
Ah but Mike, now he is playing in that forward role under Dyche, I wonder what his recent stats are?
Danny O’Neill
27 Posted 13/04/2023 at 07:38:07
I'm with Tony @9 and Dave @11.

Some must have seen more of him to make judgement. I haven't and I understand he hardly played any senior games for Man Utd. I don't know enough of him.

We did miss Doucouré. And for a long time time, we berate the midfield, but often, when they look up, there are few options and little movement.

Those who saw the Chelsea game by whatever means, that second goal was a perfect example of what we lack. A midfielder (Doucouré) high up the pitch, instinctively plays a first-time pass for Simms to run onto. He barely looked. He just knew there was movement and a runner.

Sam Hoare
28 Posted 13/04/2023 at 08:39:31
Mike@25, I’m sure you know that’s because (inexplicably) Doucoure has been played mainly as a deeper sitting midfielder by Lampard, Benitez, Ancelotti etc.

Under Dyche he’s played further forward and has the highest goal involvement of any of our players. He’s obviously not Benzema but he’s at least some threat when playing AMC.

Even for a rampant Forest playing 40 games in a lower division Garner never scored more than 4 (whereas Doucoure managed 7 for Watford in the PL).

I think my assertion was sound.

Robert Tressell
29 Posted 13/04/2023 at 08:48:08
Garner is a better footballer than both Gueye and Doucoure.

Both these players have been effective in some respects but are also a big part of our downfall. They just aren't good enough on the ball and offer little more than running power. Passing range, positional discipline and goal threat almost non existent (despite Doucoure flattering to deceive in this latter respect).

It makes it really hard to build a decent midfield around such limited players.

Hopefully Onana and Garner can step up, giving us a better quality midfield base for a 4411 or 4231 (obviously jury is out on Onana but he does have talent).

Tony Everan
30 Posted 13/04/2023 at 09:13:32
Doucoure has stated his favourite position is the one he has been recently playing. He has seemed happier than he’s ever been at the club given that freedom to get forward. His contribution complimenting our previously mostly ineffectual stand in CF Demarai Gray. It’s a big loss for us his three game ban. Garner’s most natural role is more of a defensive midfielder, but he’s always looking to get on the front foot.

Doucoure as an ACM will outscore Garner, because of their positioning and their natural ability in those positions. A midfield three incorporating Garner and Doucoure as first choices, then Gana or a more disciplined Onana occupying the third spot could be a great balance. With both Doucoure and Garner contributing much needed and elusive midfield goals.

Dave Abrahams
31 Posted 13/04/2023 at 09:25:35
Robert (30), with all due respect I think while the jury is out on Onana I would use him as a sub with him replacing either Gana or Garner for the last twenty minutes or so depending on the situation.

We can’t continue to use a player, who is simply not doing enough, from the start of the game while we need every player to do their utmost throughout the game because of the desperate state the team is in.

The jury won’t mind waiting as long as the team get us out of the mess we are in.

Lee Courtliff
32 Posted 13/04/2023 at 09:27:01
Surely Garner can play in a midfield 2 and we push Onana further forward? He can offer us height and maybe our new Fellaini?

Last week clearly didn't work so I'd be happy to see Dyche try it against Fulham.

Tony Everan
33 Posted 13/04/2023 at 09:46:31
Lee, I think a few of us are thinking that, Dyche’s has to be considering it, and whether Onana can be effective enough in the role. Possibly they’ll be working on it in training this week ? Not long to go to find out.
Sam Hoare
34 Posted 13/04/2023 at 10:04:48
I don’t think Onana is able to play the Fellaini role yet, despite his height. Fellaini knew how to use his height to disrupt and was especially adept at controlling long balls on his chest and bringing others into play. Onana does not have these skills yet, he is not very effective with the ball in the final third at all. But he does cover ground well and win a lot of tackles.

If Calvert-Lewis is back then hopefully we’ll soon revert to what we saw in Dyches first match against Arsenal, one of their toughest matches of the season.

Paul Cherrington
35 Posted 13/04/2023 at 10:25:36
stick him in for me and see how he gets on. looks to have real class and can pass/shoot better than a lot of our other midfielders it seems. looks like he has a good engine and work ethic about him too.

36 Posted 28/04/2023 at 11:11:17

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