[dropcap]L[/dropcap]ooking at the Premier League, it is hard to contest that there is a better left-back than Everton’s Leighton Baines, who continues to be a driving force both defensively and on the front foot for the Merseyside outfit.
The England international is certainly one of the Toffees’ most important players, but has been on the sidelines due to injury at the start of this season.
However, despite Roberto Martínez surely counting the days down until Baines is fit and ready to be involved in first-team proceedings again, Everton have an unusual wealth of quality in the left-back position to take his place.
The Spanish trainer has opted to give youngster Brendan Galloway the nod in recent weeks in Baines’ absence, with the 19-year-old performing admirably in the first team.
The Zimbabwe-born defender was signed from Milton Keynes Dones last year and has quickly made a name for himself on Merseyside.
Having made two brief outings last season, Galloway has been given four Premier League starts this time round and not looked out of his depth in the slightest.
The England under-19 man put in a commanding performance in Everton’s recent 3-1 win over Chelsea at Goodison Park, defying his young years with an accomplished showing against world-class opposition.
Still only a teenager and with a lot to learn, there is potential scope for Martínez to shape Galloway into a top-class performer.
Galloway has been getting picked ahead of the more senior Bryan Oviedo, who has shown in his time in English football that he can be a devastating attacking full-back.
The Costa Rica international has been on the Toffees’ books since 2012, but it was in late 2013 that the versatile star really started to make waves.
Deputising for Baines, Oviedo put together a string of stunning performances, including a memorable appearance for the Merseyside club against Manchester United at Old Trafford, where he scored the winner in a 1-0 victory.
A sickening leg break meant Oviedo missed Costa Rica’s World Cup adventure last summer and it appears that the defender is still to get back to his best form after injury.
However, there is no doubting that the 25-year-old would be an apt deputy for Baines if Martínez saw fit.
Finally, Luke Garbutt has been a member of the England under-21 set-up for the last year and has represented his country at various age-grade levels since stepping out for the under-16’s in 2008.
Widely acknowledged as a player with a sparkling future, his first-team opportunities at Goodison have been blocked by Baines.
This season, with Martínez obviously keen to give the former Leeds United youth player regular football, Garbutt has been farmed out to Fulham on loan.
This follows on from successful temporary stints at Cheltenham and Colchester respectively in recent seasons.
The irony of Baines being unavailable just as Garbutt has been sent out on loan will not be lost on the player, but someone of his ability will surely have a role to play at Everton in the not-too distant future.
Everton are certainly a stronger team with Baines in it, with the England international a top player for club and country.
However, despite the exciting left-back missing the start of the new season, it appears that the Goodison Park club have plenty of able deputies waiting in the wings.
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