Hello and welcome to the Liverpool ECHO's Friday live blog for all your very latest Everton news, rumours and transfer gossip.
The ECHO will provide breaking stories, reaction and comment to all the big talking points from Goodison Park as well as keeping tabs on transfer market gossip from around the world.
Everton are again linked with a move for Real Madrid's Isco while there are updates on Alessio Romagnoli and James Rodriguez's departure.
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And don't forget to subscribe to our FREEEverton FC newsletter, our YouTube channel and listen to our Royal Blue Podcast, with all your favourite ECHO regulars including Phil Kirkbride, Adam Jones, Dave Prentice, Gavin Buckland, Chris Beesley, Sam Carroll and Connor O'Neill.
Adam on that team news
No Cannon or Dobbin for #EFCU23 tonight.
The latter was injured last time out but not sure on the former if I'm honest.
Good to see some minutes for Jarrad Branthwaite, however!
Interesting to see Jack Barrett given a chance in goal over Zan-Luk Leban as well.
Team news is in!
Here is how the Blues line up this evening:
— Everton (@Everton) September 24, 2021
Everton v United u23s LIVE
Evening all, we'll be continuing our transfer rumours and news into the evening.
But we'll also have latest score, goal details and analysis from the Everton v United u23s clash which kicks off at 7pm.
Adam Jones is en route to Southport to cover the game live.
Stay tuned for updates...
The Royal Blue podcast
Sam Carroll, Dave Prentice and Gavin Buckland join host Adam Jones for the Royal Blue podcast. Looking back at the disappointing Carabao Cup penalty shoot-out defeat at QPR on Tuesday, they pick out the players who let themselves down and the handful who did themselves a favour. James Rodriguez was nowhere to be seen at Loftus Road. Instead, he was in Qatar, finalising his move to Al Rayyan. The panel have the final word on the Colombian superstar who never got to play in front of fans at Goodison Park before looking ahead to a 'must-win' match at home to Norwich City on Saturday.
Bruce makes Longstaff claim
Newcastle boss Steve Bruce has suggested the future of Everton target Sean Longstaff could hinge on those above him at St James' Park.
The Toffees remain interested in the midfielder and a January move could be a possibility.
The 23-year-old’s current deal expires at the end of the season meaning he can start talking to clubs in the new year and walk away from for nothing in the summer.
And on Friday, Bruce said he is not the person in control of sorting a new deal.
When asked about Longstaff’s future, the Magpies boss told Chronicle Live : "There's nothing I can do with anybody that gets linked.
"Sean is playing very well at the moment. I have been very, very pleased with him."
To read the full story, click here.
Benitez on James exit
Everton boss Rafa Benitez has insisted doubts over James Rodriguez’s availability would have proved difficult for the club to manage.
The Colombia international made 26 appearances in all competitions last season, scoring six goals, but faced various spells on the sidelines.
James did not make a single appearance for the Blues this season under Benitez and joined Al-Rayyan in Qatar for an undisclosed fee on Wednesday.
Some argue Everton will miss the creativity of a player many consider to be a world-class talent but the Toffees manager admitted concerns over his fitness.
Speaking at his pre-match press conference ahead of the visit of Norwich on Saturday, Benitez claimed: “When you have a player, the situation we have, that he can be available for 50% of the games overall in the Premier League, it's not something we can manage easily."
To read the full story, click here.
Isco's future 'remains in the balance'
Real Madrid midfielder Isco is said to be unhappy with his situation at the Spanish club, having fallen out of favour in recent years.
The 29-year-old has mainly been limited to substitute appearances for Los Blancos in recent times and is out of contract next summer.
According to CalcioMercato, Isco is no longer 'central' to the Madrid project and 'remains unhappy' with his position in the side.
Everton were linked with the former Malaga man in the summer as well as in the January window.
Blues backed to beat Norwich
Mark Lawrenson has backed Everton to get the better of Norwich City at Goodison Park tomorrow afternoon.
The Blues will be looking to bounce back from their Premier League defeat to Aston Villa and Carabao Cup exit at the hands of QPR.
Norwich, meanwhile, are yet to win a league match this season and have struggled to adapt to the demands of the Premier League once again.
Previewing the game in his BBC column, Lawrenson said: “Everton got taken apart in the space of about 10 minutes at Aston Villa but their problems are nothing compared to Norwich’s situation.
“The Canaries have lost all five of their games so far and were beaten at home by Watford last weekend.
“They got their only away win of the season at Goodison Park in 2019-20, the last time they were in the Premier League, but it is hard to see them winning a game anywhere at the moment.”
Keane eager to improve Goodison Park record
Michael Keane hopes Everton can improve their fortunes at Goodison Park this season, having struggled to pick up points on home soil last term.
The Blues lost half of their 18 games at Goodison during the 2020/21 campaign, enjoying a superior record on the road.
But the Everton defender hopes that can change this term as the Toffees prepare to host Norwich tomorrow afternoon.
Speaking in his Everton FC column, Keane said: "We’re back at Goodison on Saturday and our form there will be crucial. Last season, we weren’t good enough at home.
"Our away form was brilliant but we didn’t turn up enough times at Goodison. If we had a decent home record, we’d have probably qualified for Europe. That’s what cost us last season and we know if we improve that this year – and keep the away form strong – we’ll have a better chance of finishing higher up the table."
Iwobi explains 'improvement' under Benitez
Alex Iwobi has claimed he is becoming a more improved player due to working under Rafa Benitez.
The 25-year-old has scored one goal and provided one assist for Everton this season, with the Blues enjoying a strong start under their new boss.
Other players within the team such as Demarai Gray and Andros Townsend have made instant impressions since their summer moves, and Iwobi feels as though he has also upped his game.
"I can see the improvement under the new manager because he's vastly experienced and has worked with different players at major clubs," Iwobi told BBC Sport Africa.
"He came in and told me the part of my game that needs improvement, and so far I can see the progress and impact. When you work under someone who's managed top players in his career, you have to listen because the gaffer has already seen things you are only just learning."
Rodriguez speaks out after Everton exit
James Rodriguez has described his recent time with Everton as “very hard” at his unveiling as an Al-Rayyan player.
The 30-year-old joined the Qatari side on Wednesday, after being spotted at the airport earlier in the week, putting an end to his year-long stay with the Blues.
His spell at Evertonbegan brightly as the club won their opening four league games last season, with Rodriguezregistering six combined goals and assists in his first five appearances.
However, he left the Blues having never featured under new boss Rafa Benitezand has revealed he found it difficult being unable to play.
“It has been very hard for me, and this is good,” Rodriguez reportedly saidin his first interview as an Al-Rayyan player.
To read the full story, click here.
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