Kilbane Issues Fletcher Warning
Saturday's visitors are about more than just Scottish hitman.
Everton would be wrong to focus all their attention on silencing striker Steven Fletcher this weekend.
That is the view of former Sunderland and Everton winger Kevin Kilbane, a man who has been studying the fortunes of two of his former sides ahead of their meeting at Goodison Park on Sunday.
£15million summer capture Fletcher has been responsible five of the six goals scored by Sunderland in the league this season, absorbing the bulk of his side's scoring burden and providing their main attacking threat.
But Kilbane, now teaming his playing career at Coventry with a burgeoning punditry role, has seen the Wearsiders in action this term and warned Everton not to focus solely on the Scotland hitman.
He told the Everton matchday programme: "Fletcher is in form right now and has been a real key player. He has been a really good signing from Martin O’Neill.
"He paid a lot of money but Fletcher is producing the goods. He is an excellent player, definitely. But it is the old adage that if you concentrate too much on one specific player there will be threats elsewhere.
"He has been scoring all the goals for them and they’ve not had too much of a contribution from elsewhere in the team. I’m sure Sunderland will be looking to take the load off him and try to get some goals from elsewhere."
In contrast, scoring goals from all quarters hasn't been a problem for the Blues this season; Everton have created more chances than any side in Europe's top five leagues, netting more than three times as many league goals as Saturday’s opponents.
"I have been extremely impressed with Everton," declared Kilbane. "Lying fourth in the table is an excellent start and they are in a really good position right now. There is a lot of quality throughout the team. I think in recent years they have done really well and David Moyes has managed to maintain a set team for the majority of the season. I think they will do well this season."
Former Republic of Ireland international Kilbane is, by his own admission, in the autumn of his career. But the 35-year-old insists he's still enjoying life in League One.
His experiences at the Ricoh Arena are being enhanced by a former Everton teammate, with Lee Carsley now on the Sky Blues' coaching staff.
"I’m still going on – some night say hanging by a thread!" joked Kilbane. "I’m still playing and still enjoying it. We’ll see what happens in the next year or so. It’s great to be down at Coventry and I’ve got Lee Carsley there as well.
"Cars has been really impressive as a coach, I’ve got to say. It’s easy to say because he is a friend of mine but I think he is excellent."
As well as much more from Kilbane, Saturday’s issue of the matchday programme includes Kevin Mirallas revealing just how much he is enjoying life on Merseyside following his summer switch from Olympiacos. The Belgian favourite talks targets, team-mates and the derby as our featured player.
Shane Duffy shares his musical tastes – including his shocking yuletide favourites – as the subject of MyPod, while Alan Stubbs assesses the Under-21s’ chances of reaching the Elite Group stage. There’s also the usual exclusive thoughts of manager David Moyes and skipper Phil Neville. And all for just £3!
Look out for the programme around Goodison, in local newsagents or go here for more information on Club publications.