Everton haven’t played a game of football in over a fortnight, going back to their last game in December, against Chelsea where they snatched a draw with an extremely weakened team that saw seven key players missing.
Despite fixture postponements killing the opportunity for the Toffees to add points on the board, it has been a blessing in disguise for Rafa Benitez who has had a squad plagued with injuries and virus outbreaks over the last month, with fixture cancellations offering a break for Everton to rest and regain fitness in key areas of their team.
With that being said, here is the predicted starting XI Football FanCast expects to see at Goodison Park against Brighton this afternoon.
We expect to see five changes to Benitez’s side with one particular player back in the side that will come as a surprise to fans as Lucas Digne is predicted to be included in the starting line-up against the Seagulls.
The £110k-per-week left-back has been out of favour in the side since his last appearance against Liverpool in the Merseyside derby over a month ago, with a rumoured feud with the Everton manager over tactics being blamed for his absence.
However, after being spotted back in first-team training this week, it’s an opportunity for the manager and player to put their differences aside, as Benitez will be desperate to get his first win in three.
One addition that fans will be thrilled to see is the inclusion of Dominic Calvert-Lewin for the first time since September. The star striker has been teasing a long-awaited return from a quadriceps injury that has taken a long time to repair, with the 28-year-old suffering a setback in October.
Calvert-Lewin can certainly add more creativity and a better attacking threat that will intimidate the Brighton defence today, scoring three goals in his only three outings this term, which will be especially welcome due to the absence of Richarlison through injury.
The three other additions to the team are Everton’s joint top goal scorer Demarai Gray, Toffees captain, Seamus Coleman and Brazilian midfielder, Allan.
Benitez will need to do everything he can to seize the home advantage opportunity at Goodison Park today against Brighton, with a three-point win crucial to the side’s Premier League campaign.
A victory could put the side ahead of Southampton in 13th and should put the Toffees well clear of the relegation zone if results go their way.