Rafa Benitez troubles mount as leading Everton duo succumb to injuries

Andros Townsend, Everton winger in Premier League action against Brentford

Everton’s slide towards the lower reaches of the Premier League shows no signs of abating any time soon after Richarlison and Andros Townsend were both ruled out for a number of weeks.

The Toffees have endured a really difficult season that has seen the club lose seven of their last nine games. Amid questions being asked about the leadership of Rafael Benitez, it was director of football Marcel Brands who ultimately paid the price.

Indeed, Benitez came out of Everton’s leadership meeting with more responsibility than ever. And while the Spaniard is open to the idea of a successor to Brands being appointed, it looks like the Toffees boss will have a leading say on January arrivals.

And having just spent £1.7m – on Demarai Gray – over the summer, it looks like Benitez will again have to work some transfer magic.

Now it seems the pressure will intensify with news on Tuesday emerging that Richarlison and Andros Townsend both face spells out.

Brazil striker Richarlison was one of the major talking points of Sunday’s defeat at Crystal Palace. Indeed, with Benitez replacing him early in the second half with his side trailing 2-0, that prompted open dissent from travelling fans.

Benitez said post-match that the forward had sustained a calf problem. Now a subsequent scan has revealed a tear which the club say will rule him out for “a number of weeks”.

Andros Townsend has fractured bone in foot

It doesn’t look much better for Townsend either. The summer arrival from Crystal Palace has been one of few bright sparks for Everton this season.

However, he too faces a number of weeks out, having suffered a fractured bone in his foot.

Picked up at Selhurst Park, he will now be assessed by specialists. Indeed, midfielder Abdoulaye Doucoure has just returned from a similar problem and he missed five weeks.

In addition, captain Seamus Coleman sustained bone bruising and soft tissue damage late against Palace and will be assessed over the coming days.

Chelsea target Everton's Lucas Digne

Chelsea could target Lucas Digne after Benitez fall out.

Benitez was already without midfielder Tom Davies (knee) and defender Yerry Mina. The latter lasted just 31 minutes on his comeback after two months out before sustaining a calf problem.

Last season’s leading scorer Dominic Calvert-Lewin has been out since August with a thigh problem. And although he’s edging nearer a return, the loss of Richarlison and Townsend is a huge blow.

The Toffees, who have taken just four points from the last 40 available, next face a trip to Chelsea. You can see our Predictions for the match right here.

Chelsea readying Lucas Digne approach

Chelsea have reportedly settled on the structure of a deal they hope will land Lucas Digne in January.

The strength of Thomas Tuchel’s Chelsea has undoubtedly been their rock-solid defence. However, for the first time in his reign, questions are now being asked.

No fewer than four of Chelsea’s centre-halves are out of contract next summer. Whether that is having an impact on their form on the pitch, only they will know.

The problems do not stop there, however, with left-wingback becoming a point of contention following Ben Chilwell’s injury.

The England international suffered a partially torn ACL injury in Novemeber. The club opted to hold off on surgery for the time being, though going under the knife remains a possibility.

Marcos Alonso has returned to the eleven in Chilwell’s absence. However, the Spaniard has looked far from his best in recent weeks.

As such, a report claims they’re considering a loan approach for Digne, who has recently fallen out with Benitez.

And in order to make the deal happen, they are stated to have drawn up a loan deal with a £21.3m option to buy in the summer.

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