James McFadden believes the future is incredibly bright for Everton defenders Nathan Patterson and Vitalii Mykolenko as the duo prepare face off in Wednesday evening’s World Cup play-off semi-final (7.45pm BST).
Patterson’s Scotland will host Ukraine at Hampden Park, with the winner set to travel to Wales to decide who will be jetting off to tournament's finals in Qatar this winter.
Both full-backs moved to Merseyside in January and McFadden is predicting a productive future.
On Mykolenko, McFadden called on his nation to be wary of the 23-year-old’s attacking threat.
“I hope he doesn’t get any shots away from the edge of the box, certainly after his goal against Leicester!” McFadden joked in an interview with evertonfc.com.
“When he first came in, I think he struggled a bit, but Frank [Lampard] has managed to come in and get him playing and he’s looked brilliant.
⚽️ 𝗚𝗼𝗮𝗹 𝗼𝗳 𝘁𝗵𝗲 𝗦𝗲𝗮𝘀𝗼𝗻: 𝗩𝗶𝘁𝗮𝗹𝗶𝗶 𝗠𝘆𝗸𝗼𝗹𝗲𝗻𝗸𝗼 ⚽️— Everton (@Everton) May 25, 2022
Big goal. Big game. And led to a BIG three points.
Congrats, Vitalii! 👏@Davanti_Tyres 🔵
“He’s a young player who has got a lot of developing still to do.
“He’s done great, and Scotland will need to look out for him because this is a huge game.
“Obviously, there’s the atrocities in Ukraine and nobody wants to see that.
“I’m just happy that the Ukrainian players feel that they can play the game.
“If they’re feeling right and ready to play, then I’m glad the game is going ahead.
“It will be an experience that I have never seen or been involved in before. Playing against a team that has so much going on in the background at home.
“It’s going to be a strange day, but Vitaili Mykolenko has been excellent. He’s been excellent for Everton over the last few weeks, and we (Scotland) just need to make sure that we don’t let him shoot.”
McFadden insists he has not been surprised at the rallying support Mykolenko continues to receive from Evertonians following the invasion of his homeland of Ukraine.
“It’s what Everton do,” he continued.
“As soon as you come into this Club, you’re one of them.
“It’s no surprise to me the show of support at the home game [against Manchester City] was incredible.
“I was watching it on TV, but you could feel it.
“You could feel the atmosphere, the love and support.
“It doesn’t surprise me; this is a special Club.
“I know people will say that regardless of who they have played for, but this Club really is, they take you in.
“I’ve been away from this Club for years, yet I walk down the street, and everybody still wants to hear how you’re getting on.
“If you show that you care, you show a bit of passion and that you can play then this Club will love you and Vitaly Mykolenko has certainly been that and the Club have shown him that support.
“It’s no surprise to be that they’ve done that as that’s just how they are.”
🏴 Nathan Patterson with his first international goal 👏— UEFA EURO 2024 (@EURO2024) November 29, 2021
How will Scotland fare in the World Cup play-offs? 🤷♂️@ScotlandNT | #WCQ pic.twitter.com/XdqZiHvMPv
The road to World Cup qualification has seen Patterson emerge as one of Scotland’s brightest young stars, with a goal and an assist in the 2-0 win away to Moldova arguably his best performance for Steve Clarke’s national side so far.
Patterson moved to Goodison Park shortly after that contest - and, despite frustration following an ankle injury that curtailed the 20-year-old's season early, McFadden is confident the former Rangers defender will become a key performer under Lampard.
“He’s come down and hasn’t played much yet, but he’s shown with his performances with Scotland that he’s a talented player,” added McFadden.
“It won’t faze him coming to play for Everton.
“It’s great for Everton and it’s great for Scotland.”
One player who could prove pivotal to Patterson’s development is Seamus Coleman, McFadden labelling his former teammate is the ideal role model.
“Seamus is going to be key for him because he came to the Club as a young player. He had a lot of developing to do. Great attitude and he had a willingness to learn,” he said.
“He was out every day doing extra, he wanted to improve, he wanted to be part of the side.
“Seamus will no doubt help him because he’s captain as well.
“I can’t believe where the time goes but he’s turned into a mature player who leads by example. He’s always done that and he’s vocal as well.
“It’s a natural progression that you go on and try help the younger players coming through and Seamus will be brilliant for him because he’s been a terrific servant for Everton.
“He [Seamus Coleman] is probably one of the best signings the Club has ever made in terms of value.
“No doubt he will learn from Seamus and there’s no better player to learn from.”