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Liverpool Echo
Liverpool Echo
Beth Lindop

Brian Sorensen issues Gio injury update and verdict on Everton academy talents after cup defeat

Brian Sorensen has praised the performances of three Everton debutants despite his side's defeat to Durham in the Contintental League Cup.

Everton went into the contest at the Marine Travel Arena knowing even a win would not be enough to see them progress to January's quarter-finals but looking to end the year on a high after their emphatic Women's Super League win against Tottenham in midweek. Sorensen made nine changes from the side that triumphed at Brisbane Road, with academy products Abby Clarke and Annie Wilding included in the starting lineup for the first time.

Lily Crosthwaite put Durham ahead after 14 minutes and though the Blues battled to get back into the game, the Championship outfit stood firm to deny their hosts a victory ahead of the winter break. However the performances of Clarke and Wilding - as well as fellow youngster Taylor Howarth who also made her senior debut as a substitute - proved to be a huge positive for the Everton boss.

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“I think they did good," Sorenen said after the game, "they did everything they could so I couldn’t ask for more. It wasn’t enough but that’s how it is sometimes."

He added: "I said to them it's a chance to get some minutes and showcase yourself. It’s always hard (when the players don’t know each other that well). I’m disappointed we didn’t take anything from it but I’m happy with the overall performance.”

Reflecting on what the academy stars can take from Saturday's encounter, the Dane said: "We get to see them now and they get a taste of what the level is even against a Championship side. They still have to have the physicality that’s why it’s hard for youth players to step up.

"It’s a different game in that aspect it goes faster, the intensity’s faster, they hit you harder so its good learning for them.”

Though Everton's Conti Cup campaign ultimately ended in disappointment, Wednesday's win at Tottenham saw the Blues move into the top half of the Women's Super League table and the manager revealed he is pleased with how his side has fared since he took the reins at Walton Hall Park in September.

"I think we’re doing good," he said.

"Theres been one game I wasn’t happy with (Manchester United). The rest have been good performances. A lot of new players coming in the summer window so there were a lot of moving parts we had to get on the right track and I think we are there.

"We showcased that on Wednesday. The Conti Cup was never our priority - it was a priority to give younger players a chance and some of the ones who haven’t had so many minutes too - but we weren’t really going for it because we were focusing on the league."

He added: "We have defensively a good team. We want to be more attacking but that’s the harder thing so I’m happy where we are. I’m just of course looking forward to a little break now but then ready to go in 2023."

Sorensen and his coaching staff were given a scare on the stroke of half time when winger Gio went down under a heavy challenge from Durham goalkeeper Naoisha McAloon. The Brazilian, who scored her first Everton goal against Spurs in midweek, was subsituted at the break but the manager confirmed her removal was precautionary.

"It was not a serious injury," he said.

"That’s what we were a little afraid of but it was a little MCL that had a little strain. Not a big thing so we just tested her at half time to see how it was. She felt okay but I took the decision not to jeopardise it."

Everton will return to action on January 15 when they welcome Reading to Walton Hall Park in the Women's Super League.

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