By Matt Farr
Ronald Koeman should name Tom Davies in his Everton starting XI to face Middlesbrough on Saturday.
The 18-year-old has burst onto the Premier League scene this season, and has become an important first-team player for the Toffees in recent weeks.
He should come into the side for James McCarthy, while Morgan Schneiderlin should make way for Idrissa Gueye.
Besides the two midfield changes, Koeman should largely stick with his side that put six past Bournemouth last week, meaning nine players keep their places.
Joel Robles, Leighton Baines, Ramiro Funes Mori, Ashley Williams, Seamus Coleman, Gareth Barry, Ademola Lookman, Ross Barkley and Romelu Lukaku must all continue in their respective roles.
Despite conceding three goals to Bournemouth last time out, Koeman should not make any drastic changes to his defence.
Even with experienced players like Maarten Stekelenburg and Phil Jagielka waiting in the wings at Goodison Park, there is no real need to make amends to a settled back-line.
Prior to the Bournemouth game, Everton had kept four clean sheets from six Premier League outings, so the result could be considered little more than an off-day for the Toffees’ defensive quintet.
The experience of Barry, on the other hand, will be a handy asset to have. The 35-year-old acts as the defensive-shield for Everton, and his role is perhaps one of the most valuable in Koeman’s team.
Their upcoming opponents are not the most potent goalscoring outfit, but Everton can do no wrong in ensuring they remain defensively sound throughout the full 90 minutes; so the inclusion of Barry is a must.
Gueye, meanwhile, will also be important in his ball-winning midfield role. The Senegal international has done little wrong since his move from Aston Villa back in the summer, and has been a big loss for the club during his spell at the Africa Cup of Nations.
It may be considered a little harsh to see the likes of Schneiderlin and McCarthy dropped to the bench after their efforts in recent matches, but such selection issues are likely to occur now that Koeman has such quality options at his disposal.
After being handed his first Premier League start for Everton against Southampton at the start of January, Davies has contributed one goal and two assists from his five appearances since.
His meteoric rise has been rewarded with the PFA Player of the Month award for January, and can take valuable momentum into Saturday’s game.
Koeman simply must not, however, tamper with his attacking line-up. His trio of Lookman, Barkley and Lukaku proved particularly fruitful against Bournemouth, and Middlesbrough will have to be at their best to keep them at bay.
Lukaku is in particularly golden touch, having put four goals past the Cherries.