Roberto Martinez had already decided his starting eleven for the opening game of the season against Watford on Saturday.
The Blues signed off for pre-season with a 2-1 defeat against Villarreal on Sunday, in the game that doubled up as Duncan Ferguson’s testimonial.
And while the sight of Big Dunc and Wayne Rooney pulling on the royal blue shirt one more time may have left the majority of fans misty eyed, thoughts have quickly turned back to who will be kicking off the new campaign against one of the League’s newbies.
Martinez revealed after the win over Hearts at the end of July, that he had a preferred starting team already pencilled in. But the Catalan did insist that he would leave the door open until after Everton had faced Villarreal to give players one last chance to force their way into his thinking.
Now, the boss has confirmed that he has his mind made up on the side that will start against the Hornets this weekend.
However, that team may also not be set in stone and the Catalan will have to tweak his plans if a couple of players fail fitness tests.
Romelu Lukaku joined back up with the first-team today after missing out the weekend’s friendly games against Leeds United and Villarreal.
Martinez insists the Belgian will be fit for the curtain raiser despite suffering from “heavy legs” against Dundee United last week.
The players that may face fitness tests are Kevin Mirallas and John Stones, who both came off early against Villarreal with knocks. but the boss is confident they will be fit to play a part.
Gerard Deulofeu is expected to miss out with a hamstring injury, meaning the fans will have to wait a little longer to see the Catalan magician on the Goodison pitch again.
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So, when asked if he now knew his starting 11 for the Watford game, Martinez responded: “I would say so, yes.”
“Sunday was important to see a couple of partnerships.
“Obviously Romelu Lukaku is a player who is very important in everything we try to do in that forward play and he will be essential this week of preparation.
“But I am very, very clear in the way we are going to play on Saturday.
“Pre-season has been really, really intense, and it has stretched all over us working in Singapore in different time zones and the amount of games we have played but I can say, now, I am very, very clear what we have to do and that we have to use the window in the best possible way.”
So, the manager has picked his starting team but who would start and who would you bench?