Everton manager Sean Dyche has now said that centre-back Jarrad Branthwaite could play as the Toffees welcome Wolves to Goodison Park on Saturday.
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.”
Indeed, £30m defender Michael Keane has started the opening two Premier League games of this campaign, alongside vice-captain James Tarkowski.
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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.
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.