The international break is always a fraught time for club managers, and Everton’s Roberto Martinez won’t be amused at losing Darron Gibson for the rest of the season.
The midfielder suffered a cruciate knee ligament injury on international duty with the Republic of Ireland, and Martinez must now face the rest of the campaign without the former Manchester United man.
There is plenty to suggest however that the Blues can handle this loss and continue their impressive form this year.
Everton have begun the new season strongly under Martinez following his summer arrival from Wigan, replacing the outbound David Moyes.
The Blues’ only defeat has come against Manchester City at the Etihad and they had the longest unbeaten start in the Premier League.
Romelu Lukaku’s arrival on loan from Chelsea has already proved to be a shrewd decision, with the Belgian settling in quickly at Goodison Park.
Perhaps even more important however, given the future absence of Gibson, is the purchase of fellow holding midfielder Gareth Barry on loan from Man City.
Few players can boast such experience at the highest level, and Barry is a proven ball winner with an eye for a pass and a left peg that can sporadically bulge the onion bag.
The departure of Moyes after over 10 years at the club could have led to a downfall in fortunes, but Martinez has quickly got his feet under his new desk and Everton can be backed at 12/5 for a top six finish this season.
The Toffees are 10/1 with Ladbrokes for a top-four finish, but with Arsenal, Tottenham and Liverpool showing a renewed challenge to Chelsea and the two Manchester clubs, this could be slightly out of reach for a team on a limited budget.
Everton are 1/10 to finish in the top ten, and the blue half of Merseyside can also be backed at 3/4 without the top six.
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing
Fancy a flutter? Sign up today to claim three £10 free bets when you bet £10