Everton have travelled to Cyprus for their final dead-rubber Europa League Group E tie against Apollon Limassol without manager Sam Allardyce, while assistant Sammy Lee has also stayed behind in the build-up to Sunday's (10 December) Merseyside derby clash with Liverpool.
The club confirmed on Wednesday morning that new boss Allardyce, who would have been taking charge for only the second time after last weekend's 2-0 Premier League victory over Huddersfield Town, was unable to fly with the squad due to a "pre-arranged medical appointment".
Right-hand man Lee has stayed at Finch Farm in order to work with the first-team players that have not been selected, with Everton set to field a much-changed side with their elimination from Europe's secondary club competition long since confirmed and the Liverpool match now just days away.
"It is a dead rubber," Allardyce warned this week, per The Times.
"I would suggest to the fans that if you are going to spend some money to go and watch, be mindful that I am going to send a team that is not going to be risking too many players who are going to be involved for Liverpool."
With Allardyce and Lee both absent, first-team coaches Craig Shakespeare and Duncan Ferguson will be handed the managerial reins at Tsirio Stadium on Thursday evening.
The Liverpool Echo report that youngsters Nathan Broadhead, Alex Denny and Fraser Hornby were all expected to be on the plane to southern Cyprus, with fringe senior players such as James McCarthy, Sandro Ramirez and Davy Klaassen also likely to be given a chance to impress.
The likes of Leighton Baines, Maarten Stekelenburg, Ross Barkley, Ramiro Funes Mori, Seamus Coleman and Yannick Bolasie would all have been unavailable for selection anyway.
In other Everton news, Joe Royle has left his role as professional development coordinator. The Toffees legend, now 68, returned to Goodison Park in 2014 during the reign of Roberto Martinez and worked closely with Under-23s manager and academy director of coaching David Unsworth, but feels that now is the "right time for a break".
Both majority shareholder Farhad Moshiri and chairman Bill Kenwright paid tribute to Royle, with the latter insisting that the door will always be open for a fourth stint at Goodison Park for the former striker and FA Cup-winning manager.
"As we all know 'Legend' is a word that can be overused in football but, as a player, a manager and a man, there is no doubt that to all Evertonians Joe Royle is just that - a legend," Kenwright said. "He typifies everything that is good about our club in terms of knowledge, commitment, skill and passion - but most of all in terms of what it means to be a Blue.
"The door is always open, Joe. Come back home whenever you want..."