Everton midfielder James McCarthy made a welcome return from the knee problem that has blighted the start of his campaign on Tuesday (17 October), playing 45 minutes for the club's Under-23s as they lost 3-1 to Wolfsburg in the Premier International Cup.

McCarthy managed to come through the first half against the young Germans unscathed, but his withdrawal at half-time seemed to hand Rüdiger Ziehl's side the initiative. David Unsworth's men were leading 1-0 through a Boris Mathis strike and had looked good value for their lead in the opening 45, but without the Irishman and regulars Beni Baningime and Morgan Feeney, the young Blues crumbled, allowing Murat Saglam, Abdallah El-Haibi and Blaz Kramer to guide Wolfsburg to victory in the last half-hour of the contest.

The loss ended Everton Under-23s' run of six straight victories, but Ronald Koeman will at least be encouraged by the return of McCarthy, who has been the subject of a fierce spat between the Dutchman and Republic of Ireland manager Martin O'Neill in recent months.

Koeman's first-choice central midfielders Morgan Schneiderlin and Idrissa Gueye have performed well within themselves during the embryonic stages of the new season and do not deserve to be starting on the basis of their recent displays.

With games against Lyon, Arsenal and Chelsea in the space of seven days, combined with the struggles of the Frenchman and the Ghanaian, the return of McCarthy cannot come soon enough for Koeman – whose reign at Everton could well come to an end in coming weeks.

The Europa League clash against Lyon will almost certainly come too soon for McCarthy, but Koeman may see fit to include him in his squad to face Arsenal, who expect to have Alexis Sanchez, Aaron Ramsey and Laurent Koscielny available for their visit to Goodison Park.

Everton will be without long-term injury victims Seamus Coleman, Yannick Bolasie and Ramiro Funes Mori for the visit of Bruno Genesio's men, while it remains to be seen if Spanish forward Sandro Ramirez is afforded any game-time on Wednesday after being omitted from the squad that salvaged a 1-1 draw with Brighton and Hove Albion on Sunday.

Dutch midfielder Davy Klaassen also did not feature against Brighton but is itching to play against Lyon and has warned his Everton teammates of the threats the Ligue 1 outfit possess. Former Ajax captain Klaassen played against Lyon in the semi-final of the Europa League last season and singled out former teammate Bertrand Traore and compatriot Memphis Depay as the dangermen Everton must stifle if they have designs on getting their European campaign back on track.

"I am eager to play, of course – against these types of teams and former teammates, you really want to play," Klaassen told Everton's official website. "We knew we had a difficult start with a few tough games – but now is the time to win games and show what we can do.

"Lyon have lots of good players. Traore was really important for us at Ajax last year. I do not think everybody noticed it at the beginning but he is so good with the ball, he dribbles with it and is dangerous all the time.

"Depay is exceptionally talented. When he played for PSV Eindhoven in Holland he was so good, he dominated the league. He had a rough time in England but he is picking it up again at Lyon and is doing well.

"And Tete is a really good defender, good in the tackle, strong and fast."

James McCarthy
McCarthy is close to a return to the first-team. Getty Images