Everton manager Rafa Benitez assesses Demarai Gray and makes a major Asmir Begovic pronouncement.

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Everton manager Rafa Benitez assesses Demarai Gray and makes a major Asmir Begovic pronouncement.

Asmir Begovic will ‘push’ Jordan Pickford this season, according to Rafa Benitez, who is a supporter of Demarai Gray playing in a central role.

Gray made his debut appearance for Everton during Thursday night’s friendly against Millonarios, coming off the bench at halftime.

The Blues signed the 25-year-old from Bayer Leverkusen for £1.7 million last week, and he was one of three wingers on Benitez’s shopping list this summer.

Gray, though, came in at halftime in Orlando to replace James Rodriguez and was used in the No10 position as part of Everton’s 4-2-3-1 system.

The former Leicester City man shone in a much improved second-half performance for the Blues, converting a 64th-minute penalty to draw the Blues level with their Colombian opponents.

“I knew him well from his time in Leicester when we signed him,” Benitez remarked.

“I knew he could play in any of the three places behind the striker since we were tracking him.

“But I like this position because he has the ability, the quickness, and we have wingers in Iwobi, Gordon, and Townsend, so it was a great fit for us to put him there.

“He did a fantastic job; his movement was excellent, he was a threat, and he scored the penalty, but his movement and time on the ball were particularly impressive.

“He was also quite organized when it came to defending. It’s still early, and we need to improve everyone’s fitness, but I was really impressed with what I saw from him and the rest of the team.”

The friendly at the Camping World Stadium ended in a 1-1 draw, forcing a penalty shootout, which was won by new goalie Begovic.

Begovic, who was making his Everton debut, had already made an impression in normal time but went on to save two penalties and score one in the 10-9 shoot-out victory.

Benitez commented, “We were searching for a goalie with experience to help the club and he played incredibly well tonight.”

“He’ll be pushing, which is fantastic. This is a critical position if you want to win competitions.” “The summary comes to an end.”

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