Premier League • England

Benitez gives update on injured stars; names two areas for Everton improvement

Everton boss Rafael Benitez during their match against Watford, October 2021

Rafa Benitez has revealed that his coaching staff are working hard behind the scenes to bring back a number of key players, while also naming two major areas that the team needs to improve on.

The Toffees were without Dominic Calvert-Lewin, Abdoulaye Doucoure, Yerry Mina and Andre Gomes for the draw with Tottenham at the weekend. However, Benitez is hopeful that he will be able to welcome back some of his stricken stars for the clash with Manchester City a week on Saturday.

One player who did make a welcome return on Sunday was Fabian Delph, with the midfielder impressing against Spurs.

And Benitez is keeping his fingers crossed that the cavalry arrives in time to face Pep Guardiola’s men.

“We are working on that, we brought in a rehabilitation coach [Cristian Fernandez, appointed in October] to be sure we could be a little bit stronger,” Benitez told evertonfc.com.

“Delph is an example of that. We are bringing back some important players and, hopefully, we can bring back some of the important players we are missing at the moment.”

Everton 0 Spurs 0: Much improved, but not from the ref

Everton were vastly improved in their 0-0 draw against Tottenham on Sunday.

Delph’s start against Tottenham was his first in 11 months and Benitez was impressed with what he saw.

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Benitez praise for returning Everton star

He added: “I will give credit to Delph. He is someone with experience, he can pass the ball and give us a little bit more control – but you can see he is still not at the level [full fitness].

“Every player is important, particularly with a lot of games in one-and-a-half months [10 fixtures in 42 days from 21 November].

“It is really important to have every player fit – especially in positions like this one in midfield. When you have players with experience and quality, they can help the team play better, keep the ball better.

“Andros did a great job – we would like to see crosses and goals from him. But in this position he was helping the team.”

Benitez, however, wants his side to have more of a cutting edge to make the most of their build-up play. To that end, he identified two areas that Everton need to improve on.

He added: “We needed more balance and quality up front to be sure we could keep the ball better.”

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