Nathan Patterson faces brutal Everton transfer reality after fresh blow and injury nightmare

Nathan Patterson could have been facing hosts Germany in Munich’s iconic Allianz Arena in the opening game of the European Championships next month but the injured right-back’s omission from the Scotland squad means he can focus on getting himself fit for Everton - if there is a future for him at Goodison Park.

On Wednesday morning, Scotland manager Steve Clarke named a 28-man provisional squad, which will be cut to 26 for the finals, but Patterson, who is recovering from surgery following a hamstring injury suffered in the latter stages of Everton’s 6-0 thrashing at Chelsea on April 15, was not included. The 22-year-old had only been introduced at Stamford Bridge as a half-time substitute for captain Seamus Coleman but as Ben Chilwell pushed forward to provide the cross that resulted in Alfie Gilchrist’s goal to complete the rout, Patterson can be spotted crumpling in a heap and holding the back of his leg and was immediately replaced by Ben Godfrey.

Missing out after just six minutes of action at Euro 2020 (played the following year because of the global coronavirus pandemic) will be galling for Patterson, as an estimated 100,000 Tartan Army fans are expected to travel from north of the border to the heart of the continent for the competition but the realities of his day job at Goodison Park must now take precedence. The former Rangers man has 21 caps for Scotland - that’s more appearances than he’s made for Everton in the Premier League in either of his two full seasons on Merseyside to date.

The Glaswegian has also scored for his country which is something he hasn’t managed for the Blues so far. When Patterson arrived from Ibrox in January 2022 in a deal that Sky Sports reported at the time could be worth up to £16million including add-ons, he came with the reputation of being a precocious talent.

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However, the manager who signed him, Rafael Benitez was sacked less than a fortnight later before the new boy could make his debut. Patterson was snapped up hot on the heels of another full-back, Vitalii Mykolenko, whose move had been announced on New Year’s Day but while the Ukraine international soon became a regular in the team and after early struggles was arguably the most-improved player in the Everton side this term compared to last season, the Scot’s outings have come in fits and starts, hampering his progress.

Patterson didn’t even make a single Premier League appearance in his first season at Goodison Park under Frank Lampard with his only outing being a 45-minute cameo in a 2-0 win over non-League Boreham Wood in the FA Cup fifth round when he played on the right hand side of midfield in a 3-4-3 formation before undergoing ankle surgery. Although he started the first eight matches in 2022/23, Patterson then injured his ankle again but returned for a six-game spell before being dropped after a chastening 4-1 home defeat to Brighton & Hove Albion.

With Coleman stretchered off with a knee injury at Leicester City on May 1, Patterson redeemed himself against Brighton & Hove Albion with a strong showing in the 5-1 success at the Amex Stadium the following week but a fortnight later he was sidelined again when forced out of the 1-1 draw at Wolverhampton Wanderers after less than half an hour with a hamstring problem that kept him out of ‘The Great Escape’ against Bournemouth. Having returned to fitness over the summer, Patterson, who had added five kilos of muscle to his frame, was in bullish mood when speaking at Everton’s pre-season training camp by the shores of Lake Geneva.

Nathan Patterson during an Everton training session on May 16, 2024
Nathan Patterson during an Everton training session on May 16, 2024 -Credit:Tony McArdle/Everton FC via Getty Images

He told the ECHO: “I just want to try and play as many games as possible, making sure I stay fit and doing everything I can to help the team through goals and assists. I want to be consistent as I possibly can in terms of giving my best performances for the team.

“I think if I can get my games, those numbers will come because I love to get forward and be providing for the team because it makes it really enjoyable. I’m full of energy so I want to make sure I’m doing that.”

The 2023/24 campaign was a season of two halves for Patterson though. Before the turn of the calendar year, he featured in 22 of Everton’s 24 matches but in 2024, the outing at Chelsea was one of just two Premier League cameos he made with just four appearances in 21 games. Injured for the final half dozen, there was also the unfortunate incident while the squad were away in Portugal when it was reported that he had been slapped by his manager in a restaurant.

When quizzed about what went on, Dyche attempted to play things down, saying: “You know, never let the truth get in the way of a good story. So, there’s nothing in it really, I tapped him on the head like your older brother would and he didn’t get the joke, there’s nothing more to it but of course, that wouldn’t have sold.”

Publicly, the Blues boss has always been positive about Patterson’s progress but actions speak louder than words and Dyche has often preferred veterans Coleman (35) and Ashley Young (38) in the right-back berth or even Godfrey who is a natural centre-back. When director of football Kevin Thelwell admitted: “Players will be sold” this summer, many fans understandably wondered about the future of some of the club’s most-valuable assets such as Jarrad Branthwaite and Amadou Onana or the likes of Dominic Calvert-Lewin who is about to enter the final 12 months of his contract but given the amount of money that Everton splashed out on Patterson, his age and the fact that team-mates who are in their twilight years as professional careers or prefer to be deployed in other positions are regularly getting the nod ahead of him, there have to be serious question marks over his future.

Transfer funds are going to be tight again at Goodison this summer and the amount that can be spent might heavily depend on who is offloaded but the club have already been linked with a potential move for AZ’s Japan international right-back Yukinari Sugawara. Asked before Scotland’s friendly against Northern Ireland in March whether this has this been one of the most-challenging periods of his career, Patterson produced a potentially telling answer.

He told Viaplay Sports: “Yes, you could say so. Obviously I’m not playing as much as I would like to play but sometimes that’s just football and I’m not the type of person that will just give up.” With Coleman and Young both offered new one year deals, Evertonians must hope that’s the case or else Patterson’s time with the Blues might otherwise soon be coming to a close.