Fabian Delph made his first appearance of 2021 from the bench as Everton beat Arsenal on Friday night.
Injuries have limited the English midfielder to just four starts this season – so does he still have a role to play for Carlo Ancelotti?
During an exclusive interview with Nigel Martyn, that’s what we asked the former England international.
He feels Delph has an important part to play next season if he can stay fit, because this term has underlined the importance of having as many options as possible.
“He’s a good player,” Martyn said of Delph. “He’s in the Allan mould, isn’t he? Sitting deep, winning the ball back and passing simple and early.
“He did a typical Delph tackle on Friday – got booked – but looked neat and tidy on the ball.
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“The injuries that Everton have had in midfield, to Doucoure, Allan and Gbamin, you need lots of bodies to cover that.
“They’ve been down to bare bones for quite a lot of the season and it’s just good to have a stronger bench, even if he doesn’t quite get into your first choice starting line up.”
“He will probably end up starting 15 games and coming 15 more, so 30-odd appearances in a fit season, so he will be important next season.
“He’s won the league with Manchester City and he knows what it takes at that level. You need that experience in and around the time and it would have been nice to have him fitter for more of the season.”
Martyn’s right – Ancelotti’s midfield rebuild in the summer means that Delph could no longer be considered to be part of the starting XI when everyone’s fit.
But he is a player who knows what it takes to win trophies and can also fill in for Lucas Digne at left-back if needed.
He’ll just be hoping for an injury free 2021/22, after a season which has never really got going.
Nigel Martyn speaking to Everton News: Archive