Young defender Jarrad Branthwaite is expected to be part of Rafa Benitez’s first-team plans at Everton with the new Premier League season now just weeks away, as reported by the Liverpool Echo.
The 18-year-old centre-half could have crumbled like a Cadbury’s Flake after a miserable start to his Everton career in July 2020.
Branthwaite came off the bench at half-time during a top-flight clash with Wolves and, just seconds later, was at fault as Leander Dendoncker scored the second in a comfortable 3-0 win for Nuno Espirito Santo’s men.
But it is a credit to his attitude, as well as his ability, that Branthwaite merely took that in his stride and came back stronger.
By the time the season ended, any lingering doubts about whether the former Carlisle United youngster was ready for the rigours of the Premier League had been emphatically dispelled.
Does Jarrad Branthwaite deserve a chance under Rafa Benitez?
It was a surprise, then, when Carlo Ancelotti opted to loan Branthwaite out to Blackburn Rovers last summer.
12 months on, Rafa Benitez is unlikely to make the same decision, with the Echo suggesting that Everton’s 19-year-old stopper is likely to be handed a first-team role once he recovers from the ankle surgery that kept him out of the club’s pre-season trip to Orlando.
It is unlikely that a man compared to Declan Rice and Michael Carrick due to his ability to break the lines with his fine passing range will be starting games regularly under Benitez, however.
Michael Keane, Yerry Mina, Ben Godfrey and Mason Holgate are all ahead of him in the pecking order.
“Like the look of Everton’s 18-year-old centre back Jarrad Branthwaite,” Liverpool legend Jamie Carragher wrote on Twitter.
“Excellent again. He’s got size and presence, plus having a left footed centre back always adds a nice balance to a team.”