Everton’s Defensive Woes: Michael Keane’s Uncertain Status for Burnley Match
The fact that regular starter Jarrad Branthwaite will miss the game due to suspension raises concerns about the news.
After Everton’s 4-0 loss to Aston Villa in August, Branthwaite replaced Keane in the starting lineup. Since then, the young player has played in the league with James Tarkowski for 14 straight games.
Following their deducting of 10 points by the Premier League last month, Sean Dyche’s team has since kept five clean sheets, including three in a row.
But Branthwaite was punished for a reckless challenge on Cole Palmer during their Sunday victory against Chelsea, as Michael Oliver issued him his fifth booking of the campaign.
For the first time in his four-month absence, stand-in captain Tarkowski will now have a new partner, and Keane was the most likely option.
Keane could miss the game against his old team, according to the Liverpool Echo, depriving him of a unique opportunity to make an impression in the starting lineup.
During his appearances for Everton this season, Keane has struggled. He was responsible for Villa’s fourth goal in their 4-0 loss in August and gave up a penalty when he replaced Ashley Young as a substitute in the Merseyside derby.
The former Burnley player and Ben Godfrey made their last start in a back four in August’s match against Doncaster Rovers, where Everton was down at the half against the bottom-dwelling team in the EFL.
Keane started in an EFL Cup third round fixture at Villa Park in September, although he was paired with Tarkowski and Branthwaite in a back three as Everton became the only team to win there without losing since February.
Keane’s probable absence, however, might provide Godfrey an opportunity to play. Godfrey hasn’t appeared on the field since substituting for Tarkowski in injury time during a 2-2 draw with Sheffield United on September 2.
Godfrey has fallen to fourth choice at centre defence at Goodison Park after battling with form and fitness since injuring his leg on the first day of the previous season. He has now been left off the field for 13 games in a row across all competitions.
Idrissa Gueye’s first-half caution means he will miss Everton’s match at Turf Moor as well, meaning Branthwaite won’t be the only man missing.
Amadou Onana and James Garner’s well-timed comebacks from illness and injury mean that they should both start, but Everton will probably play without a recognized midfielder on the bench once more.