As Everton took to the field to prepare for their clash with Aston Villa on Saturday evening, there were some glaring absences in the Toffees line-up.
Rafa Benitez already knew before the weekend that he would be missing star striker Dominic Calvert-Lewin but he will now have to make do with a number of other key faces too.
However, the biggest blow relates to Richarlison. He was on the end of a meaty and controversial tackle by James Tarkowski against Burnley a week ago which went unpunished.
The Brazilian was complaining about his knee in the days afterwards and then didn’t make the clash against Villa at the weekend. Sadly, he will also miss the next fortnight of action.
Speaking about the injury after the 24-year-old missed out on the squad for Everton’s defeat in the Midlands, Benitez commented: “I think that the only thing we can do is what we did, to say we’re not happy with that, that’s it.
“I think that they know. Maybe not on the day of the game, but afterwards it was obvious for everyone.
“It’s something that we have to be very careful about, the kind of physical contact we allow this year. It’s clear for everyone and hopefully we will not see more players injured for these kind of things.”
The Everton boss is understandably seething with the situation, especially with Calvert-Lewin already out, and now the Toffees will have to make do without the two players they’d usually rely on for goals.
Considering that Everton are also missing their chief creator from last season in James Rodriguez, it doesn’t bode well for their fortunes over the next few weeks.
Cenk Tosun has returned to training so he could be utilised, but for now you sense that Salomon Rondon will lead the line.
The issue with that is that the 32-year-old struggled on his first start for the club last weekend. The powerful Venezuelan forward was taken off in the 63rd minute having completed just five passes at a success rate of 38%. He also lost the ball every 1.6 touches in a dismal showing.
After their first defeat of the season, Benitez will need to pick his players back up, but that will be a challenge without Richarlison and Calvert-Lewin in their ranks for the next few weeks.