Carlo Ancelotti will surely be concerned as Everton await news on Abdoulaye Doucoure’s situation after he sat out Monday’s 2-0 defeat to Chelsea with a foot injury.
That’s according to the Liverpool Echo, who quote the Toffees boss as refusing to put a definitive timescale on any return for the midfield powerhouse.
Doucoure is expected to miss at least his side’s next two games against Burnley and Manchester City, amid fears of a potential eight-week lay-off with a fractured foot.
Ancelotti describes Doucoure’s issue as an “important injury” after the £20m summer signing from Watford was not included in Everton’s squad for Monday’s defeat at Stamford Bridge.
It was only the second time this season that the Toffees have been without Doucoure in the engine room for a Premier League game, with him having sat out January’s draw with Leicester City through suspension after accumulating five yellow cards.
The Toffees hope to have a better picture on Doucoure’s return following the upcoming international break, which follows their FA Cup quarter-final tie with Man City on March 20th.
“I have to be honest with you, I don’t really know what happened, they are checking. We will be more precise in the next few days,” Ancelotti said.
“We are sure he will be out – and I don’t know how long – but until the break and when we are more precise on the recovery, I will tell you.”
“It is an important injury, but I don’t know how long he will be out. He is an important player, he puts a lot of energy [into the midfield], but I think we have the possibility to replace him well.”
Ancelotti will no doubt be concerned by the possibility of being without Doucoure for the next two months, and will hope to receive more positive news as the 28-year-old undergoes further assessments.
Everton losing the £75,000-per-week powerhouse for a lengthy period could force Ancelotti to change his entire game plan, having rarely had to worry about how the Toffees will operate on the right-hand side of their core midfield unit.
The Italian tactician opted for a 4-4-2 in January’s draw with Leicester, with Tom Davies and Andre Gomes holding down the engine room, and he chose to have a midfield pivot of Gomes and Allan behind Gylfi Sigurdsson at Chelsea in a 3-4-1-2.
But Gomes was often bypassed defensively at Stamford Bridge, while Doucoure is a player who Ancelotti waxed lyrical over just last week for the steel he brings to the side.
“He was not on my list, but we [Marcel Brands] talked together and we both agreed to sign him. I think it was, after six months, a really fantastic signing because Doucoure is playing really well,” he said, via quotes by Goal.
“Doucoure is really good physically and he’s able to recover really fast, really quick. He doesn’t show problems with his physical condition. He has played a lot of games, but he is still really good, fresh, and has no problems at all.”
Unfortunately, a problem arose just days later, and Everton are now to be without one of their most influential players.
Doucoure ranks first at Goodison Park for accurate passes made in the opponent’s half during Premier League games with 450 – 68 more than second-placed James Rodriguez and 114 more than third-ranked Lucas Digne, per SofaScore.
The former Watford star further provides the second-most interceptions (32) behind only Michael Keane (35), the second-most successful tackles (45) to Allan (48) and the fourth-most ground duels won (75) to Richarlison (131), Allan (87) and Rodriguez (84).
Ancelotti may have his work cut out moulding Gomes or Davies into the same role, so he will no doubt be concerned about the possibility that Doucoure could miss the next eight weeks. If he does miss so much action, Everton’s chances of securing a top four finish will take a massive hit.