Everton saw off Gor Mahia at Goodison Park last night and the largely inconsequential friendly was brightened up by James McCarthy ramping up his recovery from his horrific broken leg.
The Republic of Ireland international played the final 30 minutes of the 4-0 victory, getting his first senior gametime since sustaining the injury in January.
McCarthy picked up an assist as he continued his impressive recuperation and at 27 – he turns 28 on Monday – he still has time to force his way back into Marco Silva’s plans.
But will he manage it? The Portuguese is well-stocked for central midfield options at present and it is perhaps not clear what McCarthy would add to the current blend.
Much will rest on whether or not Everton can keep Andre Gomes at the club. If he stays beyond the end of this season, he will likely be relied on to link midfield and attack.
But if Silva loses his countryman, perhaps McCarthy’s mix of energy and guile means he would be Everton’s best option in that deep link role.
It’s been a long route back for McCarthy and he has returned to play under a manager who perhaps would not have signed him.
But that doesn’t mean he can’t still impress; there is a place for him in this Everton squad if he can get back to full fitness.