Perhaps lost amongst all the transfer gossip consuming Goodison Park and the online campaign to reclaim Kurt Zouma has been Everton's rather dodgy pre-season. One win and two goalless draws thus far may concern some diehard Toffees, but how much insight can be drawn from friendly matches is entirely up for debate.
What is more certain, despite Everton's run of disappointing results, is the youth ranks have produced some impressive performers – some of whom even Everton fans may have not heard of before June. Both the Premier League season and transfer deadline day are less than a week away, and if football at Goodison Park is a step too far for these youngsters, a loan move to a club lower down the football pyramid may not be.
Places in the starting lineup have been limited for this 19-year-old, but in the occasions in which he has come off the bench, he has demonstrated glimpses of quality. This included making an impact and coming within inches of scoring at the end of a 0-0 draw at Wigan after his half-time introduction, as well as linking up well with Gylfi Sigurdsson in another goalless game against Swiss side FC Sion.
He has a strong figure and, judging by his scattering of appearances in these friendlies, can give defenders a handful of problems. Given Dominic Calvert-Lewin's steady progression into the first team with the absence of a top striker following Romelu Lukaku's departure, there's no reason Hornby not do the same.
Lewis Gibson may just be the breakout star of Everton's pre-season so far. The centre-back has the right levels of aggression, toughness and tenacity, and has wowed fans with a string of impressive performances. He has certainly wowed Marco Silva, with the Portuguese manager handing him at least 45 minutes in three of the last five matches.
He is still young and occasionally rash, however. His reckless challenge in his own box gifted Monaco a penalty which they went on to miss in Everton's only friendly win, but his second-half recovery helped the Merseyside club limit the French side to little joy after half time. It is indicative of his precocious football brain and professional maturity, and he has undoubtedly given Silva much to think about.
With Broadhead voted the Toffees Under-23 player of the year last season, Silva has not been shy in giving the winger loads of football with the first team this summer and he has surely been impressed with the Welshman's ability on the ball.
Two years ago, Everton claimed the highly-rated Dennis Adeniran from Fulham and only this pre-season have Toffees fans had a real glimpse into how good he could be. Although limited to only bit-part roles off the bench against Monaco, Mainz and FC Sion, he still found time to impress from midfield, boasting great vision and composure on the ball.
Although impressive off the bench, this season is probably not the best year for a breakthrough into the first team. Jean Philippe Gbamin joins new imports Fabian Delph and Andre Gomes in Everton's midfield, and finding a way through these high-profile signings may prove a tough task.
His qualities are apparent. He's versatile and flexible, can read the game fairly well and has enough qualities to develop into a real leader at the back. First team opportunities will be available on Merseyside, and after a solid pre-season it is up to Holgate to grab them with both hands.
Source : 90min