Everton still have two players with unresolved futures ahead of pre-season return
Everton are yet to tie down two players to new contracts.
and live on Freeview channel 276
Everton return to duty for pre-season training today ahead of the 2022-23 campaign.
The Toffees will assemble at their Finch Farm training ground as Frank Lampard prepares for his first full season in the hot seat.
The Goodison Park boss will be looking to impart his knowledge and ideas on his troops before kicking off the campaign with a home clash against Chelsea on Saturday 6 August.
Some players will be given extended leave after going on international duty after last term finished. Jordan Pickford (England), Anthony Gordon (England under-21s), Alex Iwobi (Nigeria) Seamus Coleman (Republic of Ireland) and Vitalii Mykolenko (Ukraine) were among those who met up with their respective nations.
Still, on the first day of training, the likes of Dominic Calvert-Lewin, Demarai Gray, Ben Godfrey and Mason Holgate are expected to be present.
But there are two players whose Everton futures remain very much in the air.
Andy Lonergan has been offered new terms to remain as third-choice goalkeeper.
The veteran 38-year-old joined Everton last summer following his departure from West Brom.
Lonergan arrived on the back of Joao Virginia being loaned to Sporting Lisbon and youngster Harry suffering an injury.
The ex-Liverpool and Stoke City stopper did not make an appearance for the Blues.
However, he was a valued member of the squad - with Lampard wanting him for another year to provide cover for Jordan Pickford and Asmir Begovic.
The other player whose future remains up in the air is Lewis Gibson.
The centre-back was signed from Newcastle in 2017 and was tipped for an exciting future.
A loan spell at Fleetwood Town in the second half of the 2019-20 season bore its fruit. Gibson played 11 times - and would have featured a lot more had the Covid-19 pandemic not curtailed the League One campaign.
Joey Barton’s Cod Army reached the play-offs before being beaten by Wycombe Wanderers.
A move to Champions Reading the following campaign did not go to plan, however. Gibson managed only 13 outings.
And after dropping back down to the third tier last term, the 21-year-old managed just six appearances for Sheffield Wednesday due to injuries.
Everton revealed they were in discussions with Gibson when announcing their retained list.
The defender’s had a difficult few years but the Blues may still believe he’s capable of fulfilling his potential.
He’s a left-footed centre-half, which is a rare commodity to find.
What’s more, they may be erring on the side of caution after releasing Josh Bowler last summer. The winger enjoyed a fine season for Blackpool after joining them on a free transfer and has been linked with a Premier League return.
It may be a difficult one for Gibson, too.
The former England youth international could want to kick on with his senior career - and may feel he won’t get the opportunity at Everton anytime soon.
Lampard’s well-stocked in central defence, while 19-year-old Jarrad Branthwaite is now ahead in the pecking order.
If the Blues have offered Gibson an improved deal and he rejects it, the club will be entitled to a compensation fee.