McCarthy Back For Blues As Allardyce Makes Four Changes

James McCarthy will play his first Premier League football of the season at Bournemouth this afternoon, as boss Sam Allardyce makes four changes to the Everton team which drew at West Bromwich Albion on Boxing Day.

Republic of Ireland star McCarthy last started a top-flight match for the Blues in the 6-3 Goodison Park victory over today's opponents on 4 February.

The 27-year-old is joined in the Toffees midfield by Idrissa Gana Gueye - who has overcome the hamstring problem he sustained in last week's draw with Chelsea - and Morgan Schneiderlin, starting his fifth match on the bounce.

Captain Phil Jagielka comes into the middle of Everton's back four, where he will be partnered by Michael Keane, seeking a third clean sheet in three matches following his return to the side last week.

Jonjoe Kenny and Cuco Martina continue as the Blues full-backs, while Dominic Calvert-Lewin again spearheads the Toffees attack.

Gylfi Sigurdsson and Aaron Lennon will operate either side of 20-year-old Calvert-Lewin, and Jordan Pickford maintains his record of having started every Everton Premier League match since his summer arrival from Sunderland.

Wayne Rooney is fit enough for a place on the bench following his short illness, while Yannick Bolaise is also among the Blues substitutes four days after playing 61 minutes at West Bromwich on his return from a year-long layoff.

Ashley Williams, Oumar Niasse, Tom Davies, Mason Holgate and goalkeeper Joel Robles complete the visitors substitute contingent.

Before kick-off, Allardyce said: "I hope it’s eight unbeaten by the time we have finished today. It is a tough game. We have studied the West Ham v Bournemouth game. You can say they were fortunate to draw in the end, but they were actually very unfortunate not to win. They played very well, so we know we have our work cut out today.

"We are looking for an improved performance on what we showed at West Brom. We need that and need to show that to our travelling fans – and keep this undefeated run going.

"It's been a remarkable recovery from the players here. We had conceded 25 goals in eight games before I arrived and only two in the past eight games is a remarkable turnaround, and gives us a platform to win matches.  And if not win them with the clean sheet. I want us to go and try to win the game today but not to throw it too open to Bournemouth, who are so good on the attacking side.

"We have to get the right balance today and see how the game pans out."

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