For many of the opening few weeks of the season, there had been cries and lust for Ben Godfrey to return to the Everton squad.
The defender, who made England’s preliminary squad for the European Championships, had been missing in the opening weeks but has now returned.
He helped Everton defeat Burnley 3-1 a week ago but his performance against Aston Villa left plenty to be desired.
Godfrey was charged with playing at right-back on Saturday evening with Seamus Coleman ruled out for the next 2-3 weeks with a hamstring problem.
However, during the 90 minutes, the former Norwich man proved why he should really be playing in the middle of the backline.
He was caught out numerous times down Everton’s right-hand side, particularly by Leon Bailey during his late match-winning cameo for Dean Smith’s side.
As the Jamaican galloped down the Villa left to open his account for the club, the Toffees full-back was nowhere to be seen.
He’d been dragged across towards the left-hand side of the pitch and left acres of spaces for Bailey to pounce on the ball and then score.
If Rafa Benitez wants to rest Godfrey or take him out of the firing line for a match then the boss should consider unleashing one of Everton’s eye-catching teenagers.
One of them happens to be Jarrad Branthwaite. The 19-year-old played in Everton’s win over Huddersfield a few weeks ago and caught the eye.
As the Toffees reached the third round of the EFL Cup, the central defender completed a whopping 98% of his passes.
With Everton’s defence struggling this term, keeping just one clean sheet, Benitez should turn to the youngster against QPR on Tuesday evening.
The Carabao Cup is the perfect platform to unleash young players and offer them valuable experience.
Branthwaite has so far appeared six times for the Merseyside outfit but it’s in the cup competitions where he’ll arguably feel more comfortable.
Playing against Championship opposition should also be highly beneficial. He spent a period of last term on loan at Blackburn where he actually lost to Everton’s midweek opposition 1-0.
During his time there, Tony Mowbray was keen to praise the youngster after a 1-1 draw with Stoke: “[He’s] a seven or eight out of ten every week. Win your headers, play forward passes and just do your job as it says on the tin and I thought he done that very well today,” he said.
That builds on comments from his boss at Carlisle, Steven Pressley. He once tipped the defender for international stardom: “The truth is, I think he has got everything. He can pass the ball almost equally as good with both feet. He’s a terrific footballer.”
“If he continues to develop, then, without doubt, he can be an England player.”
With a number of options at centre-back for Benitez to choose from, it’s in matches like the one on Tuesday where Branthwaite really needs to stake his claim.