After a decent start to the season with four wins from their opening six Premier League games, Everton have been on a rather rough run of form by losing five and drawing two of their seven previous league outings.
In those seven previous games, Everton have managed to concede 13 goals in the process, highlighting their defensive frailties at the moment.
This could potentially have something to do with the fact that they’ve had centre-back Yerry Mina out injured with a thigh issue since October.
Taking this into account, now could be the best time for Benitez one of Everton’s young defensive talents who has hardly had a look-in so far this season.
19-year-old centre-back Jarrad Branthwaite has only played 57 minutes of action for Everton this season which came during their 2-1 win against Huddersfield Town in the Carabao Cup.
With recent reports suggesting that Everton will look to send the defender out on loan in January after securing him on a long-term contract, it could be the better option for the Toffees to keep him in the squad but give him some regular Premier League minutes instead of loaning him out
Not only would it be a good time to give Branthwaite his first taste of Premier League action this season to try and fix their recent defensive issues, but it would also give the teenager some useful experience of playing in the top-flight alongside his senior teammates after not making an appearance in the league last year and only making four the season before.
Also, given how Branthwaite has already had some experience of playing in the Championship when he joined Blackburn Rovers on a loan deal last season where he made a total of ten appearances
Labelled as a “terrific footballer” by Steven Pressley – Branthwaite’s former coach at Carlisle United – the defender should be given the chance to see if he can have a positive impact on the team and turn their fortunes around in the league.
If Benitez has no intention of playing him in the league anytime soon, it could be in Branthwaite’s best interest in terms of his development if he did go out on loan to another Championship club and got some regular playing minutes under his belt again.
However, it would be good for the Toffees if they were able to seal his signature on a new long-term deal beforehand as he could end up saving them millions of pounds in potential future transfer fees given his young age if they need to replace the likes of Mina and Michael Keane in the next few years.
With the former linked with a move away, the young Everton defender could be a viable successor.