Next Match:

Stoke City (H) Fri 26 Dec 2014, 15:00, Barclays Premier League

Hitz Heads Strong Squad

by Adam Clark @efc_adamclark

Thomas Hitzlsperger, Ross Barkley and Apostolos Vellios have been included in a strong Everton Under-21s team for tonight's visit of Blackburn Rovers.

Alan Stubbs is able to call on an unusual level of experience as his side look to maintain their unbeaten start to 2013, with Shane Duffy, Conor McAleny and January arrival John Stones also among those set to feature.

Costa Rica international Bryan Oviedo is expected to play some part after being named among the substitutes, while two days after his inclusion in David Moyes’ first-team squad, 18-year-old Mason Springthorpe is named in goal for what will be only his third Under-21 appearance.

Francisco Junior, scorer of a stunning long-range strike in last week's 2-2 draw at Sunderland, is another to get a run out, while Tyias Browning, Luke Garbutt and Matthew Kennedy complete the starting XI.

Oviedo is joined on the bench by youngsters Hallam Hope, Sam Kelly, Conor Grant and Russell Griffiths.

In January, Everton won the reverse fixture 3-0 with Junior, McAleny and John Lundstram, now on loan at Doncaster Rovers, grabbing the goals.

Kick off at Southport's Haig Avenue is at 7pm. Keep an eye on evertonfc.com or @Everton on Twitter for live updates throughout the game. Highlights will be available on Tuesday.

Everton: Springthorpe, Stones, Browning, Duffy, Garbutt, Junior, Kennedy, Barkley, Hitzlsperger, Vellios, McAleny. Subs: Griffths, Hope, Kelly, Oviedo, Grant.

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