Europa League Preview: Everton Fans To Get Glimpse Of The Future In Apollon Limassol Dead Rubber
Thursday, December 7 (18:00 GMT), Tsirio Stadium, LIVE on BT Sport 2
Sam Allardyce will miss Everton's final Europa League match against Apollon Limassol on medical grounds as the Blues juggle their pack ahead of Sunday's Merseyside derby.
With little riding on the match- Everton, being bottom of Group E, cannot progress- and Premier League performances privileged, assistant manager Craig Shakespeare will be joined by Duncan Ferguson in leading a shadow team in Cyprus.
Fringe players like Morgan Schneiderlin and Sandro Ramirez will get a chance to impress the new coaching team, while a whole host of promising youngsters from the clubs academy have also made the trip to southern Europe.
And so, a much-changed Everton side will take to the field for their last game in European competition this season.
In anticipation of Sunday's Anfield derby, a sizeable contingent first-team regulars have been left at home by Everton. The likes of Wayne Rooney, Gylfi Sigurdsson and Idrissa Gueye are among those that have remained on Merseyside, with long-term absentees Yannick Bolasie and Seamus Coleman also still on the sidelines.
It means fringe players such as Davy Klaassen and Sandro Ramirez should get a vital opportunity to impress the new staff, together with the out-of-favour quartet of Morgan Schneiderlin, Kevin Mirallas, Joel Robles and Ademola Lookman.
A youthful core of Under-23 and Under-18 regulars have also travelled, including 17-year-old defender Michael Collins and Ireland Under-21 international midfielder Harry Charsley. With the first-team stretched by injuries in defence, it could well be the case that teenager Collins joins second-string captain Morgan Feeney and Alex Denny in an inexperienced backline.
Hosts Apollon Limassol have no major injury concerns ahead of the fixture, but may also rotate their squad in anticipation of Monday's league game with Omonia Nicosia.
Who are they?
Morgan Feeney - An 'old school' style centre-back that has already drawn comparisons with Toffees legend Dave Watson, Feeney has captained both Everton Under-23s and England Under-19s over the past season. There are high hopes at Finch Farm for the Bootle-born defender.
Harry Charsley - Capped by Ireland at Under-21 level, Charsley is an energetic and versatile midfielder who has regularly weighed in with goals for Everton's age-group sides.
Alex Denny - England Under-17 international Denny is a ball-winning defensive midfielder by trade, but has also stepped up admirably to fill in at centre-back for David Unsworth's second-string team at times this season. With defenders in short supply, he may be asked to fulfil a similar role at the Tsirio Stadium on Thursday evening.
Nathan Broadhead - Perhaps the most technically proficient of those mentioned, Wales youth international Broadhead plays along the forward line and has a penchant for the spectacular.
Fraser Hornby - Strong in the air and with a keen eye for goal, Hornby was a star performer for the Blues' Under-18s last season. Converted from a central midfielder to a target-man style striker, it will be interesting to see how the Scottish age-group cap copes in an environment in which his physical prowess is the rule, not the exception.
Michael Collins - Eligible for England, Jamaica and the Republic of Ireland, pacy 17-year-old Collins has been a mainstay at centre-back for Everton Under-18s this campaign, but could play at left-back in Cyprus.
Expected starting lineups
Apollon Limassol: Vale, Pedro, Yuste, Roberge, Jander; Alef, Sachetti; Jakolis, Silva, Schembri; Maglica
Everton: Robles; Besic, Feeney, Denny, Collins; Klaassen, Schneiderlin, Baningime; Mirallas, Lookman; Sandro
It's been a quite frankly awful European campaign for Everton, who have taken just one point from a possible 15 in this year's competition.
The chances of that record improving here appear slim given the under-strength squad sent out to Cyprus, and the attention being paid to Sunday's Merseyside derby at Anfield.
As such, a home win seems the safe bet for anyone fancying a flutter on the match.
Prediction: Apollon Limassol 3-1 Everton