Premier League • England

Everton return ‘will be huge’ for Benitez after alarming run of form, claims pundit

Dominic Calvert-Lewin Everton

Everton will be massively boosted by the “huge” return of Abdoulaye Doucoure from injury after an alarming run of form, according to Noel Whelan.

Doucoure suffered a stress fracture in his foot during the defeat to West Ham last month. It was initially feared the midfielder would be ruled out for an extended period of time. However, he is now expected to return towards the end of November.

And Whelan believes that is a big relief for Rafa Benitez. His Toffees side have now been beaten in their last three games after Watford and Wolves also put them to the sword.

Doucoure, 28, had been a positive influence in the side prior to the injury. And he’s got two goals and four assists to his name so far this season.

Whelan told Football Insider: “That’ll be huge for Everton. He’s one of those players who goes box-to-box, 18-yard to 18-yard.

“The manager has given him that bit more attacking freedom this season.

“We’ve seen him getting into the box a lot more and it’s been highly effective with the goals and assists he’s managed to get.

“The shackles have come off for him this season, he’s not been restricted. He’s been given a real licence to express himself and cause opposition problems.

“He looked like he was enjoying a new lease of life before the injury.

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“It will be a massive plus for him to come back, especially as they’ve lost [James] Rodriguez so any creativity in that midfield area will be welcome.”

Doucoure suffered a similar foot injury last season which kept him out for nine games.

He’s currently stuck on the sidelines alongside fellow injured stars Dominic Calvert-Lewin, Fabian Delph and Andre Gomes.

Doucoure held in high regard

Earlier in the season the midfielder was touted as a possible transfer target for Manchester United. Speaking to talkSPORT, Tony Cascarino insisted he would revitalise their midfield.

“I can’t think of a better midfielder at the moment than Doucoure in the Premier League. The way he’s playing in this advanced role,” the pundit said.

“He is playing brilliantly, he’s really playing well.

“Look at United’s midfield and you think, that’s what they’re screaming out for, a Doucoure type of midfielder.”

Jamie Carragher agreed with Cascarino, tweeting: “Abdoulaye Doucoure has been one of the standout players in the Premier League this season.”

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