Preview: Everton vs. Salford City - prediction, team news, lineups
Everton will be looking to build on an impressive opening win in the Premier League when they take on Salford City in round two of the EFL Cup on Wednesday evening.
The Toffees earned a well-deserved victory over Tottenham Hotspur at the weekend and now face a challenge of a different kind, with fourth-tier Salford the visitors to Goodison Park.
After being backed to bring in James Rodriguez, Allan and Abdoulaye Doucoure during the summer, there is a little more pressure on Everton boss Carlo Ancelotti this time around.
All three of those players made their debuts against Tottenham and all three looked impressive, with James snatching the headlines for his creativity from central midfield, even if it was Dominic Calvert-Lewin who scored the winning goal.
No player completed more key passes than James's five, while the Colombia international's four interceptions was also the best of any player on the field.
However, Ancelotti is unlikely to field his strongest XI for this first cup tie of the campaign, with Saturday's league game with West Bromwich Albion taking priority.
Strong team or not, Everton will still be overwhelming favourites to progress, having never lost any of their previous 18 games against fourth-tier opposition in the EFL Cup.
This will be Salford's first ever fixture against a Premier League side, which can be explained by their remarkable recent rise through the divisions.
Backed by Manchester United's famed Class of 92 - Gary and Phil Neville, Nicky Butt, Paul Scholes, Ryan Giggs and David Beckham - and Singaporean billionaire Peter Lim, they have gone from Northern Premier League Division One North to League Two in five years.
The Lions are looking to maintain that upward trajectory, and this trip to a Premier League opponent will mark a milestone occasion in the club's history.
Salford have already played a few competitive games this season, including a penalty shootout win over Rotherham United in round one following a 1-1 draw in normal time.
Graham Alexander's side were end the end of a 6-0 thrashing against Manchester United Under-21s in the EFL Trophy, but they hit back with a 2-2 draw against Exeter City in their League Two opener at the weekend.
Now comes their toughest test yet against nine-time top-flight winners Everton, who will know the importance of winning some sort of silverware this season to justify their big spending.
Everton form (all competitions): W
Salford City EFL Cup form: W
Salford City form (all competitions): WLD
Bernard, Moise Kean, Theo Walcott, Tom Davies and Gylfi Sigurdsson were all among Everton's substitutes against Tottenham and will likely play some part on Wednesday evening.
This cup tie will also give Ancelotti a chance to look at some younger players, such as defensive duo Jarrad Branthwaite and Niels Nkounkou.
Injuries and a loss of form has hampered Alex Iwobi's time at Goodison Park, but he should be given a chance to show what he can do here against lower-league opposition.
As for the visitors, Alexander will surely not pass up the opportunity to pull off the biggest result in the club's history.
A strong XI can therefore be expected, possibly going with the same lineup that started the win against Rotherham and draw with Exeter.
However, Tom Elliott, Richie Towell and Brandon Thomas-Asante will all be hoping for recalls after being brought off the bench last time out.
Everton possible starting lineup:
Pickford; Kenny, Branthwaite, Keane, Nkounkou; Delph, Davies, Sigurdsson; Iwobi, Kean, Bernard
Salford City possible starting lineup:
Hladky; Threlkeld, Eastham, Clarke, Touray; Lowe, Gibson, Hunter; Armstrong, Henderson, Andrade
We say: Everton 3-0 Salford City
Salford will be right up for this match and will likely be helped out by Ancelotti naming a weakened starting lineup. The Toffees have a lot more depth these days, though, and they have won their last seven first-time meetings with domestic opponents, so we are backing a routine home win.
Top betting tip
Our expert tipster partners at Sporita.com are predicting a draw in this match. Click here to find out what else they are predicting for this game and for more of their tried-and-tested football tips.Draw:curl