Davy Klaassen’s cameo appearance against Brighton a fortnight ago signalled something of a guard change at Goodison Park.
The Dutch international had been cast aside by Everton boss Sam Allardyce since December’s dead rubber against Apollon Limassol, but his fleeting display in that 2-0 win brought that particular three-month exile to an end.
Klaassen’s return to the first team fold has, however, left a void in the ‘forgotten man’ role where the Toffees are concerned, and it falls upon another summer signing to unfortunately take up that mantle now.
Nikola Vlasic was a late addition to Everton’s senior squad last summer after the winger impressed against the Blues in the Europa League qualifier with then club Hadjuk Split.
His £10m arrival wasn’t greeted with much fanfare, given the bigger names that Everton snapped up, but he ended up being a relative bright spot in the early months of the season as the Merseysiders spluttered to get going under former boss Ronald Koeman.
Since the Netherlands manager was removed from his post in late October, Vlasic has been the footballer whose star has waned considerably in L4 after being overlooked by temporary gaffer David Unsworth and now Allardyce.
Indeed, the 20-year-old has only made six appearances since Koeman’s sacking following the 5-2 humbling at Arsenal’s hands, and hasn’t been since the home draw with West Brom two months ago.
With Everton now safe from relegation – the 40-point mark having been reached with the win at Stoke 12 days ago – is it not high time that Vlasic be granted a chance to prove his worth?
The January arrival of Theo Walcott, coupled with the return to fitness of Yannick Bolasie, have made minutes hard to come by on the wings admittedly, but there’s no reason why he cannot be in and around match day squads even as a substitute.
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Or how about deploying him in the number 10 role behind the striker, what with Gylfi Sigurdsson being out of action until the end of this term with a knee injury? Vlasic has played there before and might even strike up a decent partnership with the in-form Cenk Tosun.
Of course, it could well be that Vlasic isn’t doing well enough in training to earn a chance in the first team. If he is and he’s still being overlooked, however, maybe now is the time to give him some minutes to see what he’s capable of.
Everton need to know who to retain and let go ahead of another summer rebuilding job. If Vlasic is or isn’t part of that, he needs games to prove which one outcome is correct.