The Everton manager, David Moyes, has not ruled out the prospect of his teenage striker Victor Anichebe forcing his way into his starting line-up for the forthcoming Premiership campaign.
The Nigerian-born 18-year-old has found the net four times in pre-season, including an excellent winner in the 3-2 victory at Aberdeen on Tuesday night, a game in which he also created a goal for Tim Cahill.
Anichebe's form has been the revelation of Everton's summer and it is no longer a given that the club's £13m strike force of Andrew Johnson and James Beattie will start the campaign against newly promoted Watford.
"I have not yet decided on who is going to play up front," Moyes said after the victory in Scotland. "I am looking to see where the goals are coming from and who is doing well.
"After the Watford game we have Blackburn in midweek and Tottenham the week after, so we are making sure we start the season with everybody ready and able to play when they are called upon," Moyes added.
"Victor has done really well, but we have James McFadden who has been looking good and Beattie who was our top scorer last year while Andy has also come in. Last year we didn't score many goals but I think among the players we have available we have the balance that will bring goals.
"Beattie was a bit closer to what we are looking for from him against Aberdeen and he was a real goal threat. But none of the players should be able to take anything for granted."
Moyes is delighted with the way his players have performed in pre-season. "They have come along together well as a group," he said, "and the majority are ready. People like Alessandro Pistone have missed chunks of the pre-season but he got time under his belt in Aberdeen and Nuno Valente got an hour after only being back training a week."
Everton's next game is at home to Athletic Bilbao on Saturday, a match which will also be the former manager Howard Kendall's testimonial.
Elsewhere, the Wigan Athletic manager, Paul Jewell, is hoping to hand a debut to his new winger Luis Antonio Valencia in Saturday's final pre-season friendly with Vitesse Arnhem. With Gary Teale injured, Jewell is looking to get Valencia involved as soon as possible, with the game at the JJB Stadium seen as the ideal chance. The Latics have secured a work permit for the 21-year-old Ecuador midfielder, who last week signed a season-long loan deal from La Liga side Villarreal.
Valencia still requires a visa, but the club expect to tie up the formalities over the next 72 hours. Valencia, who has 19 caps and who played for Ecuador in the World Cup including the 1-0 defeat to England, is due to train with his new team-mates tomorrow.
It is not yet known if he will be able to collect all the relevant visa paperwork from immigration services in this country or must return to Madrid.Reuse content