Everton were handed a huge boost on Tuesday night when James McCarthy played the final 30 minutes of the 4-0 win over Gor Mahia in the SportPesa Cup final.
McCarthy replaced Cenk Tosun during the mid-season friendly, and assisted Nathan Broadhead for the team’s third goal of the match.
The 41-time Republic of Ireland international made his comeback from injury for the club’s Under-23 side at the end of last month, but appearing for the first team is a huge step forward.
McCarthy has been on the sidelines since suffering a broken leg – a tibia and fibula fracture to be exact – during Everton’s Premier League clash with West Bromwich Albion on January 20.
It was a bitter blow for the midfielder having only just recovered from hamstring and knee injuries which had seen him miss a lot of football in the first half of last season.
McCarthy has been absent for close to 30 matches for Everton, and there is no question that the Toffees have missed his all-action style in the middle of the park.
The unfortunate fact is that McCarthy has missed a lot of football in recent seasons, and it is unlikely that he will be seen in an Everton first-team shirt again until at least next month.
It is only right that the club take their time with the Republic of Ireland international, but he showed no signs of apprehension as he raced about the field on Tuesday night.
Andre Gomes has made a big impression on the Everton fans since his first-team debut, and the Toffees will have a real star on their hands if they can unlock the Portugal international’s full potential.
Gomes is not the most energetic of footballers though, and therefore does need players around him with legs. McCarthy certainly falls into that category, and his return is excellent news for Gomes as the former Barcelona midfielder looks to make an impact in England.
Indeed, the thought of McCarthy operating alongside Gomes and Idrissa Gueye will be exciting for the Everton fans, who gave the 27-year-old the reception he deserved on Tuesday night.