Everton FC boss Roberto Martinez has dismissed suggestions handing Brendan Galloway his Blues debut served as a hint over the future of defender Luke Garbutt.
Garbutt, whose contract expires at the end of the season, was largely expected to be given an opportunity at left back at West Ham after Leighton Baines underwent surgery on a long-standing ankle problem earlier in the week.
But the Catalan opted to give 19-year-old Galloway his first senior appearance in the 2-1 win at Upton Park instead, with the Zimbabwe-born defender only finding out about his inclusion 90 minutes before kick off.
It meant Garbutt had to make do with a place on the bench and was an unused substitute for the 20th league game this season.
Garbutt has not yet put pen-to-paper on a new deal offered to him by the Blues, but Martinez insisted the selection was purely based on footballing reasons.
When asked if Garbutt’s omission suggested the player had decided on his future, Martinez said: “Not really, Luke Garbutt and Brendan Galloway are very different players.
“Garbutt is a very successful story. Last year, he was in the under-21s and we put forward a two-year programme.
“Sometimes in football you don’t get the chance to get through but he’s played 10 games for the first team and has had a fantastic season for us.
“This was a different situation. I wanted to find out about Brendan Galloway.”
Garbutt arrived at Goodison Park in 2009 after signing from Leeds United, but didn’t make his debut until the League Cup win over Leyton Orient in 2012.
The England under-21 international has since played 11 first team games, including an impressive performance away at Wolfsburg in the Europa League.
But Martinez opted for Galloway – capped at England under-19 level – for his first appearance in the first team since moving from MK Dons last summer.
The Blues boss was effusive in his praise for Galloway after a strong season in the club’s under-21s set-up and said he snatched his opportunity with both hands.
“We’ve got high, high hopes for him,” added Martinez. “He’s been phenomenal in the under-21s.
“That’s what we are as a football club, we’ll give opportunities to young players if they deserve it.
“In return, the young player needs to take the opportunity. It was an example of how a young player should perform under those circumstances.
“Everyone at Everton should be proud about how he has performed for the first team.”
Martinez would not be drawn on the future of on-loan winger Aaron Lennon.
Lennon started the last game of his loan spell at the club against West Ham, with the 28-year-old ineligible against parent club Tottenham next week – and Martinez admitted he was unsure what the future holds for the wide man.
“I think you’ll have to ask that to a crystal ball,” said Martinez.
“He’s had a really successful loan period and now that’s at an end and we’ll see what happens in the future but the memories will be there forever.”
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