The Blue half of Merseyside has been tainted by injuries since the beginning of this year’s Premier League campaign. David Moyes side currently lie in 11th place in the league table and have been greatly hampered by a host of long term injuries over the last six months. In fact, joy has been hard to come by in both the blue and red halves of Merseyside this season, with both Everton and Liverpool lying in false league positions, having struggled to re-create the form of the last campaign. The Toffees have however found themselves slowly but surely climbing the ladder and have experienced a string of positive results in recent weeks. On top of this, the Everton fans have also received a massive boost in the shape of the return of the forgotten man on Merseyside; James Vaughan.
Vaughan returned to score his first goal in two years against Burnley a week ago and rescue what had threatened to be another frustrating afternoon for David Moyes’ side. The 21-year-old striker capped his substitute appearance with the opening goal of the game, giving the youngster some consolation for what has been a devastating two years filled with constant injuries and set-backs.
The young striker has been with Everton since his youth days, having joined the Toffees in 2002 and remains a firm fan favourite at Goodison Park. His potential is there for all to see at Everton, with the youngster breaking the record previously held by James Milner as the Premier League’s youngest ever goal scorer with a strike back in April 2005. Vaughan then began to break into Everton’s first team in the 2006-07 season, having impressed the staff at Goodison Park with his performances in the reserves. He made 14 appearances for the side in this campaign, netting 4 times in the process and scooping the clubs ‘Young Player of the Year’ award however, this is where his injury nightmare would begin.
Vaughan dislocated his shoulder in a pre-season friendly with Preston North End and would spend the next two seasons experiencing stuttered spells in the Everton first team as injury after injury kept the youngster on the Goodison Park treatment table. When fit and available, Vaughan was quick to remind both Moyes and the Everton faithful of his abilities. Vaughan held his nerve to score his penalty in the F.A Cup semi-final win over Manchester United last year, sending the Toffee’s to their first domestic final since 1995 despite it being his first appearance since returning from a five month spell on the sidelines.
So here we are, in the New Year and the forgotten man of Merseyside has once again returned from a lengthy spell on the sidelines. It does not take a genius to realise that Everton’s season just needs a spark to ignite the side into the form we all know they are capable of, and the returning Vaughan may have just provided it. Moyes introduced the striker in the 81st minute of the match and even though Owen Coyle’s men had shut out the Toffee’s for 80 minutes, it took Vaughan just two to open his account for the season as he showed his strikers instinct to be in the right place at the right time, slotting in a simple finish at the back post. It was a reward for the Vaughan, who had been patient in dealing with his injuries and no-one was happier for the youngster than his manager David Moyes. Moyes said:
“I am really pleased for James, who has had a terrible time with injuries for more than two years. This time he has come back without even a reserve run-out. He has missed much of his development, so we are just trying to nurse him through to get him back to what he was like as an outstanding teenager.”
Vaughan made it two goals in two games this weekend with another strike in the F.A Cup 3rd round tie against League One side Carlisle. He latched onto a poor back pass from the Carlisle defence to slot the ball past the goal keeper Adam Collin and help Everton on their way to a win that would see them extend their run to just one loss in eight games. Vaughan’s return seems to have coincided with Everton’s climb up the table and with all of the club’s injury woes, the striker has returned at the perfect time. Vaughan and Everton will be hoping that he can get a run of games under his belt and show football fans everywhere why they were wrong to forget about James Vaughan.
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