By Matt Farr
Ronald Koeman is likely to make just one change to his Everton side to face Middlesbrough in their Premier League meeting on Saturday.
The Everton boss is expected to welcome back Idrissa Gueye to his starting XI, after the midfield enforcer returned from Africa Cup of Nations duty.
He is likely to come into the side in place of James McCarthy, despite his impressive display in the 6-3 demolition of Bournemouth last time out.
The Republic of Ireland midfielder did bag a goal and an assist in the nine-goal thriller, but Gueye would bring about greater defensive stability to Koeman’s side for their upcoming tie.
Joel Robles, Leighton Baines, Ashley Williams, Ramiro Funes Mori, Seamus Coleman, Gareth Barry, Morgan Schneiderlin, Ademola Lookman, Ross Barkley and Romelu Lukaku are all in line to retain their places.
Robles has been impressive since replacing the experienced Maarten Stekelenburg in the Everton goal in December, and deserves to keep hold of the No.1 jersey for an eighth consecutive Premier League appearance.
The Spaniard has shipped four goals in his last two appearances, but Koeman will also be conscious of the fact that he has also kept four clean sheets since coming into the side.
His back-four is also expected to remain the same, meaning veteran centre-back Phil Jagielka is likely to remain on the substitute’s bench.
Jagielka has not started a league game for Everton since the 2-2 draw with Hull on December 30.
After his winter clear-out, Koeman now has a superb set of midfield options at his disposal, and the availability of Gueye will give him a selection dilemma or two in the coming weeks.
The Senegal international was an unused substitute against Bournemouth, but should feel invigorated by the rest and be ready to come back into the side.
Barry is the experienced head to shield the defence, with January signing Schneiderlin occupying the third central-midfield position.
The front-three is likely to be a fairly straightforward decision for Koeman, considering he saw his side score six goals against Bournemouth in their last encounter.
Lookman has been superb since his arrival at the club in January, taking to the top-flight like a house on fire.
Meanwhile, Barkley will once again be preferred to Belgium international Kevin Mirallas; with the in-form Lukaku a no-brainer to lead the line.
The 23-year-old hitman was in unstoppable form against the Cherries, netting four goals to take his tally to 17 goals from 25 appearances this season.
A win for Everton could narrow the gap behind sixth-placed Manchester United to just two points, and would give them further wind in their sails following a decent run of form.
The Toffees are now unbeaten in four games, and have lost just once in the new year, scoring 16 goals in the process.
In other Everton team news, Lukaku has picked his Premier League five-a-side team, but how many Everton players featured?