Sigurdsson Poised For First Toffees Start

by Paul McNamara
@Everton

Gylfi Sigurdsson will make his first start for Everton in tonight’s Europa League play-off round, second-leg encounter with Hajduk Split.

The Icelander became the Blues’ Club-record signing when he joined from Swansea last week and, three days after making his debut as a substitute in Monday’s draw at Manchester City, takes his place in a powerful-looking Toffees team.

There is also a first competitive start in more than a year for Muhamed Besic, as Ronald Koeman makes four changes to the side which started at the Etihad Stadium three days ago.

Bosnian Besic is set to be deployed in the Blues’ engine room in Hajduk’s Stadion Poljduk, 16 months after he was last named in an Everton starting line-up, for the Premier League win over Bournemouth on 16 April, 2016.

Ademola Lookman has been handed the opportunity to reprise his impressive first-leg display last week, while Cuco Martina replaces Mason Holgate on the right of defence.

Wayne Rooney plays his first match after announcing his international retirement, joining Lookman and Dominic Calvert-Lewin in what looks poised to be a three-pronged visiting attack.

Morgan Schneiderlin – who is ruled out of Sunday’s Premier League trip to Chelsea following his red card at City – plays with Besic and new-boy Sigurdsson in midfield.

Captain Leighton Baines is deployed in his customary left-back spot, with Ashley Williams partnering Michael Keane at the heart of Everton’s back four.

Jordan Pickford, who, along with Keane, was today named in Gareth Southgate’s England squad for two World Cup qualifiers early next month, starts in goal for the fifth consecutive game.

The Blues’ seven-strong bench comprises Phil Jagielka, Kevin Mirallas, Aaron Lennon, Tom Davies, Jonjoe Kenny, Holgate and goalkeeper Maarten Stekelenburg.







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