When Frank Lampard could finally hand Nathan Patterson his Everton debut after arrival from Rangers
Nathan Patterson completed a £12 million move to Everton from Glasgow Rangers in the January transfer window but still hasn’t made his bow.
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He was a January recruit that Everton splashed the cash for.
The Toffees moved swiftly to swoop for the right-back last month.
He completed a move to Goodison Park from Rangers just four days into the transfer window - for a substantial price of around £12 million. That could rise to £16 million with add-ons.
There are high hopes for the 20-year-old, who's already been capped six times for Scotland at senior level.
But Evertonians are still awaiting a glimpse of him.
He's the sole new face not to play after Anwar El Ghazi was given a brief cameo off the bench in Saturday's 3-0 defeat of Leeds United.
Despite swooping for Patterson, Rafa Benitez continued with Seamus Coleman on the right-hand side of defence.
After Benitez's sacking, caretaker Duncan Ferguson omitted the youngster from the match-day squad in the 1-0 loss to Aston Villa.
And in his three games since being appointed boss, Frank Lampard has chosen not to use Patterson.
Even with Vitaliy Mykolenko unavailable against Leeds, Jonjoe Kenny deputised at left-back. And excellently.
The only outing Patterson has been handed was for the under-23s in a 1-0 defeat of Tottenham. He caught the eye, with his inviting cross setting up Lewis Dobbin.
What's been said
Lampard gave an insight into why that's been the case before the Leeds win.
“I’ve been impressed with Nathan,” said Lampard.
“It’s not been easy to be fair to the players. They need to train well but when you can’t see them in matches - I’ve seen bits of Nathan previously - and then revert to the situation we are in, my duty is to make sure we develop young players and find the right time for them to play.
“So far in two games, that hasn’t been the right time but I’m very pleased to work with him.
“People think I love sticking young players in my teams. I do when they deserve it.
“I’m not saying he doesn’t deserve it but, at the minute, he’s in a position where the captain of the club Seamus has been so impressive since I’ve been here and for a long time at the club.
“He needs to work, keep developing, the club have signed him for the future as well as now.
“I will work with Nathan very closely and my staff - who work with the young players in particular - and when he gets his opportunity, I want to see him take it.”
When will Patterson make his Everton debut?
Lampard will be hoping to build some momentum after the victory over Leeds.
That will mean continuing with a winning side that includes the highly-trusted Coleman - who netted the opening against Marcelo Bielsa's men.
Indeed, it's not currently the time to take a risk with rookies.
Everton are not yet out of the mire in 16th spot.
A few bad results, coupled with teams around them picking up points, could see the Blues pulled into deeper danger.
Given Everton's injuries in defence, Patterson will likely continue serving on the bench in Premier League games.
Ideally, he would be handed some more outings for the under-23s but another potential casualty cannot be risked with Yerry Mina and Ben Godfrey already absent.
However, Lampard could finally give Patterson the chance to impress when Boreham Wood visit in the fifth round of the FA Cup on Thursday 3 March.
The Everton manager will surely ring the changes against the non-league outfit and hand opportunities to fringe men.
The Blues will be heavy favourites against the Wood who, as things stand, are 79 places below in the pyramid.
It's the ideal game for Patterson to be handed his bow. It'll be against opposition his ability is already at a much higher level than and there wouldn't be as much pressure as in a Premier League game.
Others youngsters such as Dobbin and Jarrad Branthwaite could also feature against the National League outfit.