Everton primed to finally utilise plan that fans have wanted to see for several years

Nathan Patterson is injured for up to five weeks and it means Seamus Coleman is likely to replace him against Southampton.

The angst among Evertonians as Nathan Patterson required a stretcher to leave the Hampden Park turf was rife.

Such a sight is so often ominous. The worst-case scenario is usually the outcome.

However, Frank Lampard may be counting his blessing that Patterson’s injury he suffered on Scotland duty isn’t as bad as he may have first feared.

The right-back will indeed be on the treatment table for a period - potentially up to five weeks.

But ask fans if they’d have taken such an absence as they watched Patterson leave the pitch. They’d have snapped your arm off.

Still, it’s a blow for the Toffees. They’ll be without one of their best performers so far this season.

Nathan Patterson receives treatment. Picture: Ian MacNicol/Getty Images

With Patterson unavailable, Seamus Coleman is the natural replacement.

Scan social media and there have been several disparaging comments about Coleman. In truth, they’ve come as somewhat of a shock.

As modern-day Goodison greats go, Coleman is right up there. He’s been the staunchest of servants. At his apogee, he was among the best right-backs in the Premier League.

And, to think, all the Blues paid Sligo Rovers in 2009 was a mere £60,000. On reflection, £6 million would be a bargain.

But soon to turn 34, he’s into the twilight years. Even Coleman would probably agree that, at this stage of his career, that starting week in, week out is no longer possible.

For several years, Everton fans clamoured for an adept successor for Coleman.

As he has aged and marauding runs declined, someone to ease the burden eluded. It was heightened by the fact that, on the opposite flank, Leighton Baines was gradually replaced by Lucas Digne.

There have been several who auditioned for the role.

Cuco Martina was signed in the summer of 2017 while Coleman recovered from a broken leg. He lasted all of one season before being jettisoned.

Jonjoe Kenny showed promise when emerging after emerging from the academy ranks. However, he fell short of the grade and left for Hertha Berlin in the summer.

And while Djibril Sidibe made 28 appearances during his loan spell from Monaco in 2019-20, the Toffees turned down the option to buy him.

Former Everton defender Djibril Sidibe. Picture: Catherine Ivill/Getty Images

The likes of Ben Godfrey and Mason Holgate served as right-sided full-backs when needed.

But when Everton purchased Patterson from Rangers in January, many concurred that Coleman’s heir had finally been unearthed.

Certainly, Patterson arrived at Goodison with a fairly lofty reputation. Despite being behind James Tavenier in the Ibrox pecking order, the 20-year-old was lauded by plenty of well-respected voices north of the border.

Evertonians had to be patient with Patterson. A relegation battle was no place for a Premier League neophyte.

And when he was finally about to make his top-flight debut, a cruel ankle injury ruled him out for the rest of the season.

Indeed, Coleman continued to serve in Lampard’s rearguard - and admirably in a three-man defence.

The Everton boss, of course, singled out Coleman as one of the best people he’s ever met after survival was secured following a dramatic 3-2 defeat of Crystal Palace.

But there was always a feeling that the Republic of Ireland international would take a back step this campaign. With a full pre-season, Patterson was expected to take up the mantle.

An injury to Coleman which forced him to have an operation helped Patterson secure the berth.

And after seven Premier League starts, he has already become a fans’ favourite.

Seamus Coleman and Nathan Patterson in action for Everton. Picture: PAUL ELLIS/AFP via Getty Images

Patterson’s tenacity going forward, coupled with his solid one-vs-one defending, have put any doubts to bed that he may not make the Premier League grade. Instead, there’s excitement about the level he could reach in years to come.

Yet the precocious defender always needed a backup.

And as he spends at least the next four weeks on the sidelines, Coleman is the ideal replacement.

It’d be fallacious to expect Coleman to deliver similar performances as Patterson.

However, Coleman has a marked advantage when it comes to nous and experience that he can utilise.

And with Lampard’s defence being watertight so far, boasting the second-best record in the league, Coleman’s chief remit will likely be to keep goals out rather than contributing at the other end.

In truth, there was a chance Coleman would have started being rotated with Patterson anyway at this stage of the campaign. A frantic period of fixtures is approaching and keeping players fresh will be key.

What’s more, Holgate isn’t too far away from returning to fitness to provide additional cover before Patterson is back.