By George Overhill

21st Sep, 2022 | 10:14pm

Nathan Patterson Scotland injury puts bedrock of Everton growth in jeopardy

The biggest success of the new Everton season is now in danger of becoming derailed after Nathan Patterson was injured on international duty with Scotland.

The right-back has been in sparkling form this season for the Toffees, having taken over from club captain Seamus Coleman, and was lauded for his key late intervention that preserved the win over West Ham at the weekend (18 September).

But after starting the Nations League encounter against Ukraine on Wednesday (21 September) he was taken off injured in the first half in what will be a significant blow to Frank Lampard, when his side’s defensive improvement is the bedrock on which this season’s improvements are built on.

Daily Mail reporter Hope wrote on his Twitter account: “Bad news for Scotland (and Everton), right-back Nathan Patterson has been forced off with what looks like an ankle injury.

“He’s been v impressive for club & country. They’ve sent for a stretcher.”

Although he hobbled off the pitch under his own steam he was subsequently stretched round the perimeter and down the tunnel.

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Last season international duty was the only place that Patterson could get a run-out as he apparently hadn’t gained the trust of Lampard, at least not to be thrown into the relegation battle as part of an embattled defence that looked emotionally shot.

Injuries to Yerry Mina and Ben Godfrey left Michael Keane and Mason Holgate to be picked apart too often alongside Coleman, who was always committed but simply not the player who can rev up and down the flank for 90 minutes like he used to.

With Jonjoe Kenny often thrown in by the manager as well it was a group that had been cobbled together in the midst of an emergency and were barely holding up.

But with Vitalii Mykolenko bedded in, James Tarkowski and Conor Coady signed in the summer to cover for the centre-back injuries which have already recurred, and Patterson let loose down the right, the Toffees back line now has as good a record as any in the Premier League.

Only Brighton have conceded fewer goals – five to Everton’s six – and have played fewer games, representing not only a huge turnaround for the team’s defensive reputation, but also Lampard himself.

It was the attack that was struggling comparatively in the early weeks of the season, but despite still not scoring more than a single goal in any game the club are on a five-game unbeaten run and haven’t collapsed to a heavy defeat once.

The manager and the fans will now be hoping beyond hope that the international break hasn’t upset the equilibrium of a unit that has become a key strength.

The current Everton side has more steel throughout than the one that slipped into a relegation battle following the ill-dated reign of Rafa Benitez, but there are fine margins between success and failure in the English top flight and it doesn’t take much to throw things off.

If Patterson is out for any length of time it could risk leaving a hole in this defence if teams look to take advantage of running in behind Coleman, or Ruben Vinagre is pressed into action on the wrong side.

With Mina, Godfrey and Holgate already injured this season it is fair to wonder why the luck of Toffees defenders is so appalling, but it looks like the problem just got that much more significant.