Four academy products to start Liverpool clash against Everton - report
By Harry Sykes
Everton are set to name four youngsters in their starting XI for Saturday’s Merseyside derby, according to a report.
The Liverpool Echo claim Ronald Koeman will put his trust in youth after injuries robbed him of a host of first-team players.
It is said that defenders Matthew Pennington, 22, and Mason Holgate, 20, are set to be handed places in the team alongside fellow academy product Tom Davies, 18 and Dominic Calvert-Lewin.
With Ross Barkley also in line to start, it means there are set to be four academy products in the Everton X1, with Calvert-Lewin a £1.5million signing from Sheffield United last summer.
Everton have been hit by an injury crisis that has robbed them of defensive mainstays Seamus Coleman and Ramiro Funes Mori, who are both out for the season at least, as well as central midfield pair James McCarthy and Morgan Schneiderlin.
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At least three of those would have been expected to have start, which has prompted a tactical re-think by manager Koeman.
With the Dutchman looking likely to play a 3-5-2 system against Liverpool, Pennington is in line to take Mori’s place alongside Ashley Williams and Phil Jagielka.
Holgate is also ready to replace Coleman at right wing-back while Calvert-Lewin, having scored the opener against Hull before the international break, is in line to keep his place in one of the three attacking midfield roles.
Davies is expected to continue in central midfield after making a huge impression since being promoted into the first team immediately after Christmas.
In other Everton transfer news, the club are close to reaching an agreement to sign a brilliant striker.