Morgan Schneiderlin is determined to revive his Everton career having been one of the few senior players sent to Cyprus for a Europa League fixture that Sam Allardyce will miss.
Allardyce, appointed as manager only last week, is not in Nicosia for Everton’s dead rubber against Apollon Limassol due to a pre-arranged medical assessment and several key players have remained home, too, given the club’s elimination has already been confirmed.
Wayne Rooney, Gylfi Sigurdsson and Jordan Pickford are among them, with Allardyce conscious of Sunday’s Merseyside derby, and Schneiderlin’s presence on the other side of the continent could be interpreted as a reflection of his place in the Goodison Park pecking order.
The 28-year-old French midfielder has not started the previous two fixtures and last month both Schneiderlin and Kevin Mirallas, another also in Cyprus, were understood to have been left out of the squad to face Watford having been involved in a training-ground incident.
At the time Schneiderlin denied reports he was sent home due to concerns over his attitude and while once more dismissing that as “fake news” on Wednesday, he did admit he is keen to make a fresh start under Allardyce.
“First I read about it in the newspaper and I was as surprised as I could be because there was no incident,” he said. “I made a statement on my social networks saying it was fake news and it wasn’t true.
“I want to turn the page. It was not nice for me to see that and it is part of football. I have to deal with it.
“I want to prove (myself) in every game and of course there is a new manager coming in so it’s a fresh start for everyone. I haven’t had the chance to play the last few games and it is going to be up to me to show what I can do and that I can make a difference to the team.
“It needs to be the aim of everybody to show themselves and show that they can play. It is a chance to prove you can play.”
In the absence of Allardyce and his assistant Sammy Lee, first-team coaches Craig Shakespeare and Duncan Ferguson will be in the dugout at the GSP Stadium.
The stakes were considerably higher when Shakespeare last took charge of a European fixture eight months ago, with his Leicester side exiting the Champions League to Atletico Madrid at the quarter-final stage.
Shakespeare was sacked from his first permanent managerial role two months ago but revealed thoughts about returning to such a post have been shelved now he is back in a coaching capacity.
“It is something I’m not thinking about at the moment,” he said.
“I have come here, I know my role, my responsibilities, I want to try and improve the players, try to improve the football club, improve myself as well. I see it as an opportunity for the team we pick to show what we can do.
“When you come into any new club you make impressions about players and form opinions. They form an opinion about you, as a player, as a coach, and you do likewise.
“It is that fresh start, it is there for us.”
Stay updated with the latest news, gossip and football stories by following us @Football_P