Everton continue the qualification stage of their Europa League campaign this evening. Croatian side Hajduk Split are the visitors to Goodison Park in the first leg of the tie.
Thursday evening sees the lights of Goodison shine down on yet another European night, with Everton facing up against dogged Croatia outfit Hajduk Split. The Blues scraped their way through both legs of the previous stage of qualifying against Ruzomberok, meaning Ronald Koeman will be hoping for a smoother passage to the next stage of the competition.
The first leg of Everton’s previous stage of qualifying fell a week before the end of preseason and match sharpness may not have been as high as the case maybe in this evenings game. Progressing to the next round will be of key importance to the Everton boss as he looks to continue to build his squad, based on European football.
Everton will be without new forward Sandro Ramirez, as the Spaniard picked up a small knock against Stoke City at the weekend. New signing Gylfi Sigurdsson is not available for selection for this evenings game, although could feature on Monday against Manchester City.
One to watch – Hajduk Split
Playing with a similar dogged spirit as Ruzomberok, The Croats are likely to be as tough to break down and could process a bigger threat going forward.
Hungarian striker Marko Futacs has had a taste of English football, playing for Portsmouth (2011/12), Leicester City (2012-2014) and finally a loan spell at Blackpool (2013). The 6ft 5in striker is likely to cause a few aerial obstacles for Jagielka and co, but is pretty good with his feet too.
Scoring the only goal in hajduk’s first leg of round 2 for Europa League qualification, the target man will be likely to receive a bit of attention from the defence of Everton. Split also have a playmaker come goal scorer in midfield in Ante Erceg. Erceg is a home grown player, now 27, who has found some crucial goals in previous legs of the away sides qualification.