Stand-in managers Craig Shakespeare and Duncan Ferguson look set to pick an Everton team made up of fringe players and youngsters when their Europa League campaign ends against Apollon Limassol.
Boss Sam Allardyce has not travelled to Cyprus for Thursday’s game due to a pre-arranged medical appointment and with the Toffees already out of Europe, the focus appears firmly on Super Sunday’s Merseyside derby against Liverpool.
Wayne Rooney, Gylfi Sigurdsson and Jordan Pickford have all remained at home, too, but those who have made the trip have an unwanted record to avoid.
Everton picked up their only point of this season’s campaign against the Cyprian side on matchday two, drawing 2-2 at Goodison Park, and if they fail to go one better in Apollon, it will be the worst group stage campaign by an English side in either the Champions League or Europa League.
Urging those involved to take their chance, Shakespeare said: “We all know that players who have not played need the opportunity to play. It is a fresh start for everybody. The team for Sunday has not been picked so there is an opportunity for things to change.
“The management and players should look at it as a fresh start. The players who come in to play, those that have not played the past couple of matches, should see it as a real opportunity to grasp and try to force their way into the team.”
While Rooney heads the absentees, internationals Morgan Schneiderlin, Kevin Mirallas and Davy Klaassen are among the contingent in Nicosia.
Schneiderlin is back in contention after serving a one-match suspension against Atalanta in the previous Europa League outing but James McCarthy and Sandro Ramirez have both stayed at home due to injury.
Apollon Limassol are set to have a fully fit squad for selection on Thursday.
In the Europa League only, no English side have ever failed to win a group stage match in a single campaign.
The Toffees will be just the second English side to visit Apollon Limassol in European competition after Liverpool in a first-round Cup Winners’ Cup tie in September 1992, with the Reds winning 2-1.
Apollon Limassol are without a win in their last 10 Europa League group stages matches (D3 L7), with their last victory coming at home against FC Zürich in September 2014.
English sides are unbeaten in their seven trips to Cyprus in European competition, winning six and drawing one.
Everton, alongside, Vardar are the only sides to concede 2+ goals in each of their five Europa League games this season.
Only Vardar (19) and Austria Wien (16) have conceded more goals than Everton (15) in the Europa League this season.