Everton defender Morgan Feeney has been drafted into the Toffees' first-team squad ahead of their Europa League group stage clash against Lyon on Thursday (2 November) as interim boss David Unsworth searches for a remedy to his side's defensive woes.
Feeney is well regarded by the Merseysiders and was part of the Under-23 side that was crowned Premier League champions last season. The young centre-back has trained with the first-team on a number of occasions during the current campaign and was not included in the Toffees' side that suffered a 1-0 defeat by Mansfield Town in the Checkatrade Trophy on Monday.
Feeney's absence from the Under-23 side led to suggestions of his inclusion for the trip to the Groupama Stadium, and the Liverpool Echo report that Everton caretaker manager Unsworth has indeed decided to draft the Bootle-born starlet into his squad amid concerns over ageing defensive duo Ashley Williams and Phil Jagielka.
Unsworth has not been afraid to elevate some of Everton's youth prospects to the first-team during his brief tenure in charge; midfielder Beni Baningime has featured against Chelsea and Leicester City, while young forward David Henen has been training with the Everton first-team for the last week.
The young starlets may well receive their European debuts against Lyon on Thursday, with Unsworth presumably having one eye on Everton's pivotal home clash with Watford on Sunday. The Toffees are all but out of Europe's secondary club competition having taken just one point from their opening three group stage matches, and currently lie 18th in the Premier League table with eight points from their opening 10 games.
Summer signings Davy Klaassen and Sandro Ramirez may be drafted in from the cold after being omitted from the squad by Unsworth, but James McCarthy will play no part against Bruno Genesio's side after suffering yet another hamstring injury.
Long-term injury victims Ross Barkley, Ramiro Funes Mori, Seamus Coleman and Yannick Bolasie are still some way off returning to first-team action, while Michael Keane is unlikely to be risked after being hospitalised with a nasty leg infection.