According to the Lancashire Telegraph, Everton prospect Jarrad Branthwaite has undergone surgery on his season-ending injury after returning from a loan spell with Blackburn Rovers.
The young centre-half saw his time at Ewood Park cut short last month after sustaining an ankle ligament issue in training, and he will now begin his rehabilitation back at Finch Farm.
Branthwaite joined Blackburn for the latter half of their Championship campaign following injuries to Derrick Williams, Daniel Ayala and Scott Wharton, and initially proved to be a regular of Tony Mowbray’s plans.
Branthwaite opened the first nine second-tier fixtures that were available to him, but fell out of the squad in March and would feature in just one of the following 12 games as Rovers’ promotion hopes vanished.
Carlo Ancelotti had been unwilling to utilise the 18-year-old at Everton following his return from a previous ankle ligament tear (Liverpool Echo) developed during the Toffees’ Carabao Cup win over Salford City in September.
The EFL Cup affair was Branthwaite’s only first-team appearance for the Blues this season, but made his senior breakthrough toward the end of last term with minutes in the final four fixtures of the Premier League campaign.
Ancelotti was full of praise for Branthwaite following his performance against Aston Villa last July, having come on to replace Mason Holgate due to a shin injury (Evertonfc.com).
“He showed quality and personality and character,” Ancelotti told EvertonTV.
“He is really calm with the ball, really comfortable, and really aggressive without the ball. He can be a fantastic player for us.”
Branthwaite sustaining two separate ankle ligament injuries in the same season will be bitterly disappointing for the teenager as he looks to establish himself in the senior game, and that will be shared by Ancelotti after it was decided that surgery would be needed.
The Everton boss will have wanted to see Branthwaite play regularly for Blackburn while on loan at Ewood Park, so that he could return to Merseyside in the summer and challenge for a more prominent role.
But Branthwaite struggled to establish himself sufficiently and as it remains to be seen when he will now feature again, he could struggle to secure another loan move in the off-season to a side where he can chase the minutes lost this season.