Everton manager Sean Dyche has now said that centre-back Jarrad Branthwaite could play as the Toffees welcome Wolves to Goodison Park on Saturday.

Indeed, the ‘quality’ defender is ‘in contention’ to feature in Dyche’s backline for what already feels like a must-win fixture.

Speaking at his pre-match press conference via Everton’s official YouTube, Sean Dyche said: “Jarrad’s obviously new to myself. He’s a couple of weeks into pre-season now but he’s getting that sharpness and had a game of full 90 (minutes) so that will do him good.

Of course he’s in contention, everybody’s in contention.”

Everton v Sporting Lisbon - Pre-Season Friendly
Photo by Jess Hornby/Getty Images

Jarrad Branthwaite is yet to make a competitive appearance for Everton under Sean Dyche’s tenure having spent last season on loan at Dutch side PSV Eindhoven.

Indeed, £30m defender Michael Keane has started the opening two Premier League games of this campaign, alongside vice-captain James Tarkowski.

However, with five goals conceded in two games, including a 4-0 defeat at Villa Park last week, Everton’s defensive frailties are already apparent, and a shake-up at the back is required.

Dyche must give Branthwaite a chance ahead of calamitous Keane

Branthwaite is a superb young talent and Dyche could build his defence around the 21-year-old, allowing him to develop alongside the experienced Tarkowski.

Indeed, with suggestions that Manchester United are interested, and with PSV reportedly keen on a reunion with the defender, offering him first-team football will be vital in ensuring that his future lies at Everton.

Everton v Sporting Lisbon - Pre-Season Friendly
Photo by Tony McArdle/Everton FC via Getty Images

The Toffees are reportedly willing to offer the England U-21 star a new contract to keep him at the club long-term, but no doubt minutes on the pitch will be a key factor in his decision to commit himself.

Dropping Michael Keane to the bench on Saturday and handing Branthwaite the opportunity to prove himself in the Premier League will be a big statement from Dyche, and one he must make.

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