THERE’S no place like home. But as Anthony Gordon will discover at Goodison Park tomorrow night, there’s no place like the place you used to call home either. It might be almost 12 months since the Newcastle United winger left Everton, but the manner of his departure continues to rankle with the once-adoring public he left behind.

This time last year, Gordon was persona non grata on Merseyside, having made clear his desire to move on during the following month’s transfer window. A home defeat to Southampton proved to be final appearance for his hometown club, after which both he and Yerry Mina were heckled by a section of the home support. If the reception that afternoon was somewhat awkward, it will be nothing compared to what is coming the 22-year-old’s way tomorrow.

“I’m sure he would have thought about it, and I’m sure he’ll be going through the mental process of preparing for the game,” said Newcastle head coach Eddie Howe, who fully expects Gordon to shake off the hip problem he suffered in the closing stages of Saturday’s win over Manchester United in order to line up tomorrow. “My message to him would be just to play a normal game and don’t overthink it.”

Gordon has already made a playing return to Goodison as he was a late substitute when Newcastle recorded a 4-1 away win over Everton at the end of April.

Back then, he came on in the 87th minute as a replacement for Callum Wilson, and while he was booed as he left the bench, the fact Everton were already trailing by three goals meant many home fans had already headed for the exit.

Tomorrow’s atmosphere, with Everton supporters bristling anyway as a result of the ten-point penalty their club was slapped with last month, promises to be altogether more explosive. Not, however, that Howe thinks it is anything that Gordon cannot handle.

“It’s not the first time he’s been back,” he said. “I’m hopeful he can just concentrate on his football and continue to play as well as he has.


“Anthony has to be prepared for whatever reception he gets and take it, but just focus on his football. That’s all he can do. If you start thinking about external things that you can't control, then you take your mind off what you can control.

“He needs to control all the things that make his performance as good as he can, which he did against Manchester United, and has been doing on a consistent basis lately. It's great to see him score goals, assist goals and look like he is enjoying his football because if a player is in that frame of mind, they are going to perform better. That's all he's got to try and do - just enjoy the game.”

Gordon’s form over the last month or so has thrust him into the heart of the debate over the attacking make-up of Gareth Southgate’s England squad for next summer’s European Championships.

Having been the Player of the Tournament as England triumphed at the European Under-21 Championships in the summer, Gordon boasts strong experience of tournament football. Given Marcus Rashford’s complete loss of form, and ongoing injury doubts over Eberechi Eze, the winger must surely have an excellent chance of making it onto the plane to Germany.

“I think this season we’ve really seen him grow and develop because of his fitness levels being so high because of his work with England in the summer,” added Howe. “I think that really benefited him, and you’re seeing now that the physical output he’s delivering in games is so high. That’s been a key reason behind his success.”