Rafa Benitez has updated fans on the availability of Everton forwards Dominic Calvert-Lewin and Richarlison ahead of the weekend.
The Toffees host Watford at Goodison Park on Saturday afternoon. They will be looking to get back to winning ways after losing 1-0 to David Moyes’ West Ham last time out.
Everton should go into the match as favourites due to the turbulence surrounding their opponents. Watford sacked manager Xisco Munoz on October 3 and replaced him with Claudio Ranieri.
The 70-year-old is highly thought of in England after guiding Leicester City to the title back in 2015/16. However, his tenure with the Hornets could not have started much worse. Watford were thrashed 5-0 by Liverpool during his first match in charge.
At Everton’s pre-match press conference, Benitez was first asked about the fitness of Calvert-Lewin. The England striker has been out since August with a thigh problem.
Benitez said: “We have some issues. Dominic has a re-injury. How long he will be out? We need to see. We will not see him for four or five weeks, maybe. I don’t like to put a timeframe on it.”
His striker partner Richarlison has struggled with a knee injury recently but could return against Watford. “Obviously the match fitness is an issue but he is happy and available for [the] visit of Watford,” Benitez said on the Brazilian.
The manager has been linked with a return to Newcastle ever since Steve Bruce’s departure. On the Magpies, Benitez said: “My relationship with Newcastle fans is fantastic. I have good memories of that. But I don’t like to see any manager lose his job.”
Attention then turned to French midfielder Abdoulaye Doucoure. The 28-year-old has been one of Everton’s best performers this term, notching two goals and four assists so far.
But a club statement on Tuesday revealed that the player would have a lengthy lay off due to a foot problem.
Benitez added: “Doucoure is someone who has lots of energy, how can we replace him? With someone with the same passion and energy, hopefully.”
To make matters worse for the Spaniard, he will be without Yerry Mina on Saturday. The defender has only just returned from international duty with Colombia.
“I say always that I don’t like to lie, Yerry Mina was playing three games with the national team, coming back he felt his hamstring in training the other day so he won’t be available.”
Pundit reacts as Everton ace linked with exit
Former manager Alex McLeish has given his verdict on the reports linking Calvert-Lewin with Real Madrid.
Italian outlet Calciomercato claim that Carlo Ancelotti is leading the charm offensive. He has a pre-existing relationship with the striker from his spell as Everton boss.
When asked about the rumours, McLeish said: “Everton fans will be saying, ‘he can’t leave us because we’re the best’.
“But when you think about it and you’re getting a call from Real Madrid or Barcelona…
“There’s a magnificent lure for any footballer in the world to be saying, ‘well, I’ve got a chance to go to Real Madrid.’
“You may leave Everton, you may leave Aberdeen. I’m sure a lot of the clubs are huge in the fans’ eyes but Real Madrid is quite something.”