Early indications are that this could be a long season for Everton. Only able to add one new name to their squad this summer, the Merseyside club find themselves in a battle to keep young defensive star John Stones, and now have an injury to England left-back Leighton Baines to frustrate them.
Baines injured the ankle he only had surgery on in May during training ahead of the season opener against Watford, which the Toffees drew 2-2, and looks set for a spell on the sidelines.
Manager Roberto Martinez labelled the knock a disaster, indicating the 30-year-old is looking at a significant spell out of the side and replacing the experienced defender with the green 19-year-old Brendan Galloway against the Hornets.
Only a late Arouna Kone leveller saved the Toffees from defeat against the Premier League newcomers, a loss which would have perfectly illustrated the Goodison Park club’s struggles in the summer.
Spending far more time talking about the battle to keep Stones away from Chelsea’s clutches than unveiling his own new signings, Martinez says he three new players before the transfer window shuts, but won’t be looking for a left-back as one of them.
The club were booed off at half time, one-nil down in the game, by fans clearly wary of another season of struggle, but managed to turn the match around to rescue a point and appease their supporters.
Everton are a 33/1 shot to be relegated with Ladbrokes, and have far too much quality for those odds to get much shorter as the season unfurls.
However, Baines’ injury and the potential loss of Stones would seriously dial up the pressure on a manager that rapidly needs a return to the results he recorded in his first season at the club, when finishing 5th.
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.
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