Carlo Ancelotti should look to unleash Mason Holgate in midfield after confirming injuries for Everton duo Allan and Andre Gomes.
The Toffees manager revealed ahead of Monday night’s 1-1 draw with Crystal Palace that the Brazilian was absent from the matchday squad alongside Alex Iwobi due to minor issues.
“We had a little problem in the past few days with Iwobi and Allan. Not a big deal but they are not able to play,” Ancelotti explained.
Gomes started the Premier League draw alongside Tom Davies in the engine room but was forced off after just half an hour when he sustained a hamstring injury.
Ancelotti does not believe the Portugal midfielder has sustained a serious issue, but the 27-year-old will undergo scans in the next few days to reveal the full extent of the damage.
“Andre Gomes has a hamstring injury, and we will have to check in the next few days,” the Blues boss noted.
“I don’t know how long he will be out. It doesn’t seem like a serious problem, it seems a little problem, but we have to check with a scan.”
Ancelotti was already without Fabian Delph (tendon) and Abdoulaye Doucoure (foot) against Crystal Palace, but welcomed Jean-Philippe Gbamin back after 20 months out with serious hamstring and Achilles injuries.
To now be without Gomes and Allan when Everton visit relegation-threatened Brighton & Hove Albion next Monday could leave Ancelotti with a serious selection headache, with Davies and Gbamin potentially the only natural central midfield options available.
However, the manager is loath to rush Gbamin back into the team after almost two years out of action, and was not sure whether the Ivory Coast international would be able to feature against Crystal Palace before his 11-minute runout.
“He will put physicality and quality into the squad – and a strong desire to play. It is like we have a new player. We are really pleased to have him back,” Ancelotti said last Friday.
“But we have to consider the fact he didn’t play for at least one year and a half. I don’t know if he is going to play on Monday but, for sure, he will be available.”
If Allan and Gomes join Delph and Doucoure in the treatment room ahead of next week’s trip to Brighton, Ancelotti could look to avoid rushing Gbamin back too soon by unleashing Holgate in the holding midfield role.
Holgate anchored the engine room on two occasions for Everton during Duncan Ferguson’s interim spell in charge at Goodison Park in late 2019, but is yet to be fielded in one of Ancelotti’s starting line-ups outside of a centre or right-back role.
Some Toffees supporters were astonished at Holgate’s performance in the role as Everton drew 1-1 with Manchester United at Old Trafford, having appeared extremely comfortable in the makeshift position.
The 24-year-old boasted a 100% tackle success rate against the Red Devils that day and broke up Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s game plan with three clearances and an interception, for a joint team-high WhoScored match rating of 7.1 out of 10 along with goalkeeper Jordan Pickford.
Holgate’s numbers see him rank first for clearances, average match rating and fourth for interceptions per Premier League game this season among Everton’s central midfielders, with only Davies (1.7), Gylfi Sigurdsson (1.5) and Doucoure (1.3) offering a higher volume of interceptions.