Premier League • England

Benitez reminds dropped Everton ace of ‘priority’; sends summer signing advice

Rafa Benitez Everton

Rafa Benitez has reminded Lucas Digne that the team must come first after refusing to reveal whether the left-back would return for Everton this weekend.

Benitez left Digne out of the Everton squad for their win over Arsenal on Monday. The full-back was healthy and available but the manager overlooked him. There was supposedly an argument between Benitez and Digne in training. It hasn’t taken long after for the Frenchman to be linked with a transfer away from the club.

Such an idea would have to wait until next month, though. In the meantime, Digne will have to fight for his place again.

Benitez believes Digne now understands the situation, but was not able to commit to whether he would select him for Everton’s away game at Crystal Palace on Sunday.

“Lucas was clear, the manager decides. He’s been training today. We will decide tomorrow,” Benitez said at a press conference.

“I think we need all the players around, to increase the competition in the team. Everybody has to be focused, and realise the priority is the team.

“I don’t want to talk too much about individuals. It’s not fair on the group. The team was doing really well on the pitch with different players so they showed they can do it. What he has to do is make sure he keeps working hard, and the team is ahead of any individuals.”

Chelsea target Everton's Lucas Digne

Chelsea could target Lucas Digne after Benitez fall out.

There are other players whose involvement in the Palace game is up for question for different reasons. Yerry Mina and Dominic Calvert-Lewin, for example, have been carrying injuries.

Benitez had better news about Salomon Rondon. Meanwhile, Allan and Tom Davies seem to be making progress.

“In terms of fitness, the team is well,” he said. “In terms of injures we have Yerry. Dominic is getting closer.

“Yerry is not available. Rondon is available and has been training.

“Allan today did half a training session. Davies next week might start with the team.”

Benitez sends message to Gray

The match-winner for Everton last time out against Arsenal was Demarai Gray. He joined the club for a bargain fee in the summer and has been justifying the faith they showed in him.

Benitez revealed that the winger was a long-term target. He is happy that everything is falling into place for him.

“I knew about his quality and potential for a while,” he said. “I was following him in Germany.

“It’s just a question of having the right moment with the right manager.

“Still he has to carry on working as hard as he’s doing already, and be more consistent.”

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