Luke Garbutt: From training on a park pitch, to being an Everton squad member in a Merseyside derby

Luke Garbutt

Luke Garbutt - Credit: Archant

One day he was playing on a park pitch in Colchester, the next he was in the Everton squad for a Merseyside derby at Anfield.

Such is the life of Luke Garbutt.

Talented left-back Garbutt was gearing up for a League One fixture, between mid-table Colchester United and relegation-haunted Shrewsbury Town, on Tuesday morning.

But instead, the 20-year-old was hastily recalled by his parent club Everton, from his successful loan spell with the U’s, and immediately named on the Toffees’ bench to play against Liverpool in one of the biggest derbies in the land.

Garbutt’s sudden return to Goodison Park was prompted by a lengthy injury to fellow left-back, Bryan Oviedo.

It represents a blow for U’s boss Joe Dunne, to lose such a quality player – the Harrogate-born defender could well become a familiar face on the Premier League stage in years to come – but the Dubliner was also delighted for Garbutt, who was an unused substitute at Anfield in Everton’s 4-0 defeat .

“It’s wonderful for Luke,” insisted Dunne.

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“It’s what we want from our young players here. That’s what it is all about, for youngsters like Luke to get first team experience with us and then go back to their own clubs to break into their squads.

“It’s particularly ironic for Luke, because only the day before he had been training on a local park pitch in Colchester – and I mean a real park pitch – because of all the recent bad weather and the waterlogged pitches elsewhere.

“Yet just 24 hours later and Luke has gone from training on a park pitch to being involved with the Everton squad at Anfield!

“That’s how quickly football can change.”

Some loan players take time to settle, when arriving at a new club, especially after starting the season playing in the under-21 league.

But that did not apply to Garbutt – he caught the eye on his U’s debut, in a 2-2 draw at Bradford on September 14, and was a model of consistency for the next 20 games.

As well as looking solid and compact in the left-back role, Garbutt was also a constant danger going forward.

In fact, it was no fluke that he netted three goals in his 20 senior outings – against Sheffield United in the FA Cup, and at Preston and against Crewe in the league – in addition to providing several assists for team-mates via his accurate crosses and pinpoint corners.

“There is no doubt that Luke has earned the right to be in the situation that he now finds himself. He is a very good technical player, and he has learnt the ropes well at this level,” continued Dunne.

“Furthermore, it is not as though Luke is going back to a Premier League club struggling against relegation. Instead, he is returning to an Everton squad pushing for Europe.”

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