Everton have been long suffering an injury crisis which has nearly forced Rafael Benitez to field makeshift teams over the last few weeks, facing the prospect of adding academy talents into the squad just to have enough players to see out fixture commitments.
The injury issues have piled up, with key players missing for large chunks of the Premier League season so far, and these issues have contributed to the poor form and performances we have seen from the Toffees over the course of the first half of the season, with Benitez’s side currently 15th in the table.
One man who has been out with a long-term injury is star striker Dominic Calvert-Lewin, who was sidelined in September with an injury sustained to his quadriceps, with a setback in October rendering him unavailable ever since – until now.
The £72k-p/w striker was spotted in training on Friday when Everton posted images of the 24-year-old on their official Twitter channel, and many fans were ecstatic with the long awaited return, as was his manager when he spoke about his return to action in the pre-match press conference on Friday ahead of the weekend’s fixture against Brighton.
Likening the forward’s return to a new signing, Benitez gushed: “He’s a massive signing for us in the second part of the league.
“We are considering all of these things but he is training really well and he is really happy because he is with the team and is ready to play and score goals.”
The striker’s return will be a welcome one as Richarlison remains injured, and fellow long-term injury victim Jean-Philippe Gbamin just can’t cut it as a prolific scorer for the Merseyside club, with no goals or assists from his four appearances so far this term.
Calvert-Lewin’s presence on the pitch will surely offer far superior attacking prowess, more creativity, intimidation of opponents thanks to his 6 ft 4 stature, and of course, most importantly, goals.
The match against Brighton is the first the Toffees have played in over a fortnight, and although the postponements are annoying for keeping up consistency and match fitness, it has given the 24-year-old some extra time to work on his fitness in training without risking another setback.
It is unsure as to whether he will actually start for Everton this weekend, but he will likely be in the squad on the bench at the very least, as Benitez will be desperate to get three points on the board in the Toffees’ first game of the new year.
Considering the continued absence of Richarlison, Calvert-Lewin’s return could be just what the Blues need in terms of offering a threat in the final third, with the team netting just four goals over their last seven matches.
In other news: Benitez teases Everton’s transfer window plans