New regime gives fringe players a chance to impress

Posted by Luke O'Farrell

Chris Brunskill/Getty ImagesAfter enjoying a solid spell of action at the end of last season, Ross Barkley is expected to see more minutes in 2013-14.

The new regime is beginning to take shape around Goodison Park. The players are filtering in for pre-season training and, as expected, the club has confirmed the backroom staff accompanying Roberto Martinez to Merseyside.

The familiar faces compromise of assistant manager Graeme Jones, goalkeeping coach Inaki Bergara, Kevin Reeves as chief scout and new head of performance Richard Evans. The quartet worked under Martinez at his two previous clubs and the Spaniard spoke to EvertonTV regarding the appointments.

"We've brought people with real experience in the Premier League," said Martinez. "They bring a real understanding of how we work and what we need to be a strong team at the start of the season. We'll make sure we get together to be ready for the start of the season."

Continuing to work towards strengthening the squad, Martinez wants "three or four new faces -- one per unit". On the surface, this may leave supporters puzzled, as the squad appears to need around twice those numbers.

The Wigan duo of Arouna Kone and Antolin Alcaraz are set to arrive, while Tim Howard as the only senior goalkeeper points to an addition in that department, seemingly leaving space for one more player. Possible sales could allow for further reinforcements, but this can open the door for the fringe players.

Rarely trusted under David Moyes, the so-called lesser lights of the squad found match action at a premium in 2012-13; this forthcoming season represents a new start and pre-season offers a chance to stake claims for greater involvement.

Of those on the periphery, Ross Barkley is primed for a greater role after some promising outings at the tail-end of the season. Another is the criminally under-used Bryan Oviedo. Versatile, possibly to a fault, the Costa Rican managed a single start and 14 substitute appearances. Ironically, the single start best displayed his potential; Oviedo capped an impressive display with an assist in the home draw against Norwich.

Another hoping to improve will be Steven Naismith. However, in this instance, the improvement required is form rather than minutes played. Appearing to wear concrete boots during the last campaign, the Scottish forward saw his troubles increase through misuse on the flanks.

Elsewhere, the highly rated defensive duo of Shane Duffy and John Stones will look to make their mark on the squad. The potential departure of John Heitinga and the possibility of a three-man defence may provide the pair with more opportunities.

Fresh from signing a new two-year deal, talented left back Luke Garbutt is also waiting in the wings. Throughout the squad, a number will be aiming to impress the new boss. The Elland Road nightmare saw Francisco Junior consigned to the scrap heap, but the young midfielder offered promise either side of that, while Matthew Kennedy, John Lundstram and Conor McAleny showed progress on varying levels last season.

In advanced areas, Magaye Gueye has returned from his loan spell in France though doubts remain over his ability. Another lost on the flanks, glimpses of potential arrived in central areas yet the competition leaves the former Strasbourg man facing an uphill task.

Set to fall further down the attacking pecking order, Apostolos Vellios threatens to squander his potential. Doubts linger over his attitude, with Moyes referring to his training in recent seasons, and the young forward must do his utmost to gatecrash the centre forward scene.

Boasting the smallest squad in the league, wholesale additions unlikely, the new season offers a clean slate for these ghosts of the first-team squad. Only Naismith reached double figures on matches started last season, this is something the aforementioned players can attempt to address in the season ahead.

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