The views on this page are taken from the local and national media and do not necessarily reflect the views of Everton.
Everton manager David Moyes is considering a move for out-of contract former Wigan striker Hugo Rodallega, 26, after wrapping up a deal for ex-Rangers midfielder Steven Naismith, 25.
EVERTON hero Trevor Steven has warned the Blues they cannot allow their habit of starting seasons slowly to become a costly psychological complex.
The former midfield ace, who was part of Howard Kendall’s all-conquering Eighties team, rates the current Toffees line-up highly, and believes they are capable of qualifying for Europe next season.
But he insists David Moyes’ men must not allow their struggles at the start of recent Premier League campaigns to play on their minds as they bid to keep with the pack chasing Euro berths this time around.
He said: “A good start could be so important.
“As long as it’s not a phobia Everton have got for that first two or three months.
"Because you can lose it in that first two or three months – any great ambition for European places.
“As long as they’re there or thereabouts, in the top seven or eight from day one, then that gives them a foundation to move forward.”
Everton’s last European action came during the 2009/10 campaign, when they reached the final 32 of the inaugural Europa League.
After three seasons away, their hopes of a return could hinge on carrying their impressive form from the end of last term into the new season.
The Blues face a tough opener at home to Manchester United this time around, but after that only one of their following 12 opponents – Newcastle – finished above them last season.
“Everything is looking reasonably good, it’s just putting the points on the board early next season, which would take immediate pressure off David Moyes about finding form,” said Steven.
“He’ll be thinking, ‘let’s find the form we know we’re capable of from day one next season and see where it takes us’.”
HE might have arrived in a low-key fashion with little expectation, but Darron Gibson swiftly established himself as one of the first names on David Moyes’ team sheet.
The former Manchester United midfielder’s signing was quickly over-shadowed by fellow January recruit Nikica Jelavic, but each played a significant part in Everton’s impressive end to last season, as the Blues finished above Liverpool and just missed out on a European qualifying spot.
And former Toffees hero Trevor Steven – a man who knows more than his fair share about the importance of a balanced midfield and firing strike force – believes both men can pick up where they left off when the 2012/13 campaign begins in August.
Vitally Steven feels the pair’s presence can help ensure that all-important strong start to the season. “It should do,” he said.
“Every team changes their squad in some shape or fashion, whether players are coming out of contract, whether they choose to leave, or whether management wishes that they move on to get someone else in, because you need to freshen it.
“But the beauty of this season was being able to go into the transfer market last January and spend a considerable amount of money on Jelavic, which was a bargain – he was probably a good 40 per cent discount on what he might have been had the situation at Rangers not been what it was. So that was an intelligent purchase.
“And Darron Gibson, who I always thought did well for Manchester United, coming in having something to prove and to show that he’s got the capacity to play in the Premier League and make a difference. He’s been consistent, Jelavic has scored the goals, so what more do you want from players coming in?
“I think the quality is there that they can get back into Europe via the league next season. I think it’s belief as much as anything. When Everton get into a run of self-belief and confidence, nobody likes coming to Goodison. And Everton are very difficult to break down away from home, very organised and you’ve got that goal threat as well now.”
And Steven, a man who keenly tracked Jelavic’s progress at Ibrox, has few doubts the 26-year-old will pick up where he left off.
He said: “You’ve seen great players come into the Premier League and not make an impact, internationally renowned players far beyond Jelavic’s reputation. But what he has got, I think he’s got honesty and he’s got endeavour, he’s got intelligence to play and he’s good at a lot of things.
“He’s not renowned for one particular thing, and if he is going to be renowned for one thing, it’s putting the ball in the back of the net. And he does that on a regular basis.
“Playing up in Scottish football in this particular era, it’s difficult to judge how well a player can do at another level. But he was consistent over in Austria with Rapid Vienna and Walter Smith had done a lot of homework on him. Rangers weren’t just buying players on what they’d seen on a CV. They’d seen him, looked at him, made a judgement, worked at getting him - and they worked hard to get him.
“So Everton have ended up with player who has been vetted coming in. And I think they’ve made a really good choice.
“So for next season, with maybe one or two more additions and maybe Steven Pienaar coming here full time – I think that would be a bonus as well – it should be good.”
MERSEYSIDE’S England Under-19 contingent made a solid start to their European Championship campaign in Estonia yesterday, Ross Barkley, Luke Garbutt, Conor Coady and Jack Robinson all featuring in an opening 1-1 draw with Croatia.
The Croatians had to survive a late onslaught from the Young Lions to ensure both sides made a solid start to the competition.
But an out-of-sorts first half performance from England meant they had to improve dramatically after the break and deservedly equalised with a fine strike by Chelsea youngster Nathaniel Chalobah.
It might even have been better for Noel Blake’s side, with Blues’ midfielder Barkley seeing a stunning 25 yard shot cannon off the crossbar three minutes after the interval.
Harry Kane fed Barkley 25 yards out with the Everton ace instantaneously striking a stunning shot at goal.
Sluga was nowhere near it, but it crashed against the bar and bounced out.
England were caught out against the run of play, as a cross from Marko Pajac was nodded back down by Dugandzic for Pavicic to sweep in after 57th minutes.
But the lead didn’t last long and Barkley and his Everton club-mate Luke Garbutt were instrumental in the equaliser.
Barkley started the move by slipping a pass to the left for Garbutt and when his cross was only headed half clear, Chalobah anticipated it, controlled and then sent a right-footer crashing past Sluga and into the top corner from just inside the area.
In the first half England had young Manchester United goalkeeper Sam Johnstone to be thankful for more than once.
The United ‘keeper made a brave block to deny Antonio Mirko Colac, after a loose header back from Garbutt was latched onto by the Croatian after just ten minutes.
Johnstone was called into action again in the 22nd minute, when Colak dragged the ball into the box from the left for Domagoj Pavicic, whose shot was well saved before England broke to the other end within a minute and Garbutt’s centre was met by the head of Ross Barkley only for Simon Sluga to keep that out.
The best of Johnstone’s work was saved for the 25th minute though, as a stunning move from Croatia saw them angle a pass into the area for Danijel Miskic. His shot looked destined for the top corner, but Johnstone got a hand to it at full stretch at the expense of a corner.
England emerged for the second half a transformed team and took the game to Croatia.
Jack Robinson replaced Anfield clubmate Conor Coady and with the fresh legs of Nathan Redmond and Rob Hall added to that, England finished strongly and almost won it in the 87th minute when Redmond burst forward down the right and played an inviting cross, which was inches away from being met by Afobe in the box.
Elsewhere at the Championships, Liverpool youngster Suso helped Spain to victory with a 2-1 victory over Greece in Group A.
The second round of fixtures takes place on Friday when England take on Serbia and Spain clash with Iberian neighbours Portugal.