Richard Wright finally got himself into action last
night…and he was mightily relieved to do so!
The Blues keeper hasn't played a game of any sort since the
last game of last season after injuring his shoulder in a freak
accident during the summer, but he completed 90 minutes at TNS on
Friday night and spoke to Evertonfc.com after it.
"I'm delighted to be back after an indifferent summer
and hopefully I can get myself match fit before the start of the
season and give the manager a selection problem," he said.
"I would have liked to have begun playing at the beginning
of pre-season, but circumstances weren't permitting, so I'm
hoping to cram a few games in between now and next Saturday, so
that I can get myself in contention for that first team
Wright's absence gave Steve Simonsen and Paul Gerrard the
unexpected opportunity to stake a claim to the number one jersey
and the England stopper knows that the quality of the contenders
means he'll have to get his sharpness back quickly.
"I've got to perform well in the games coming up to
give myself the opportunity of being selected, because the other
two goalkeepers have performed well this pre-season, so it's
going to be a difficult decision for the manager."
Ironically, the carrot at the end of the stick for Wright is a
return to Arsenal, with whom he won a Championship medal before
switching to Everton twelve months ago.
"To play at a team you've already played for is always
a bit special," he said.
"I only had one season at Arsenal. I have got great friends
there and it is a fantastic club, but I just want to be playing for
Everton, it doesn't really matter where!"
Last night, Everton won 3-1 against the League of Wales outfit
and it was a good work-out for the returning custodian.
"It was a good test because TNS are a very good team,"
"First half they put a lot of pressure on us and took the
lead, but I think our fitness and the quality of our play shone
through in the second half. You really do get tested when you come
to places like this. If you're not on your mettle, these guys
can turn you over.
The surroundings may not have been Goodison or Highbury, but
Wright was delighted to come through it and afterwards paid tribute
to Everton's physiotherapist department for all the effort they
put in during the pre-season.
"It's been a very, very hard pre-season, because as a
goalkeeper I've had to run very hard and Mick Rathbone, the
physio, has been fantastic with me. He's been a great help, as
have the other physios to get me into shape and ready to play
Now that he's got that one out of the way, Wright now just
wants to push and make up for time lost during the pre-season thus
"I feel that the expectations have risen," he said.
"As players, I can tell you that we're looking forward to
getting out there and making sure that we improve on what we did
last year. Not only do the fans have higher expectations, but the
players' expectations are high as well."
All Evertonians will doubtless be hoping that it's the scale
of ambition and achievement that go through the roof now…and
not Richard Wright's shoulder!