Everton lose Abdoulaye Doucoure for extended period of time
The injury woes continue for Everton Football Club. Yesterday, details emerged that Dominic Calvert-Lewin is still a ways off from returning to action after suffering a setback.
Today brought more worrying reports, this time about standout midfielder Abdoulaye Doucoure. Fabrizio Romano has reported that Doucoure has suffered a stress fracture in his foot.
Abdoulaye Doucouré injury. Been told it’s a stress fracture and not complete foot fracture. He’s expected to be back in 6/7 weeks. 🔵 #EFC #Everton
— Fabrizio Romano (@FabrizioRomano) October 19, 2021
This update is better than the initial rumors suggested, but the injury will still rule the Frenchman out for six or seven weeks. A timeline of seven weeks would see Doucoure miss the Merseyside derby on December first.
It is impossible to overstate how important Doucoure has been for Everton this season. The 28-year-old has done it all in midfield. The loss of Doucoure is a big hit because of his form this season. It also may force Rafa Benitez to switch away from a midfield two. Simply put, no other Everton midfielder has the skill set to match what Doucoure contributes on the offensive and defensive ends of the field.
With that in mind, here is a look at a few senior players who may be called upon to step up in the absence of Calvert-Lewin and Doucoure.
Everton Striking Options
Rafa Benitez has said that Richarlison is closer to full health than Calvert-Lewin is. If this is the case, the Brazilian will need to hit the ground running once he returns.
Richarlison has the ability to play at striker or out on the wing, which then gives Benitez some more flexibility in terms of where he deploys other players like Demarai Gray.
Richarlison picked up a goal and an assist in four Premier League matches before injuring his knee. If he returns before Calvert-Lewin, there will be a lot of pressure on him to up his production and carry the load while Everton’s main striker is on the shelf.
In the absence of both Richarlison and Calvert-Lewin, newly acquired backup striker Salomon Rondon has been thrust straight into the thick of things. Rondon has appeared in six straight matches for Everton, starting the last five of them.
Rafa Benitez is high on Rondon, having worked with the 32-year-old multiple times in the past. Even Benitez would not have expected to have to rely so heavily on Rondon at this point in the season. However, that is the sort of thing that happens when your two high-profile attacking options are injured.
Frankly, the Venezuelan has not really looked like scoring during his time at the club. Despite this, he is likely to continue getting chances for as long as Richarlison and Calvert-Lewin are out.
Everton Midfield Options
If Rafa Benitez wants to stick with a midfield two, Jean-Philippe Gbamin is probably the option that makes the most sense because of his defensive prowess. However, the 26-year-old has only made four competitive appearances since joining Everton in 2019.
Gbamin has been injured almost perpetually over the last few seasons, so his own health is a question mark. However, this could be the perfect time for the Ivorian to burst onto the scene and make an impact.
While with Mainz in Germany, Gbamin was one of the most active defensive midfielders in the Bundesliga. If he could replicate this sort of play in the absence of Doucoure, he could end up playing a vital role in Everton’s season.
Andre Gomes himself has missed Everton’s last three matches due to injury. However, the man from Portugal should return sooner rather than later.
Especially when playing in a midfield three with a defensive midfielder behind him, Gomes has the vision and the ability to advance the ball up field with his passing and dribbling.
The 28-year-old has not been quite the same player since suffering an awful ankle injury in November of 2019. Nonetheless, he certainly has the talent to make an impact when he is at his best.
Tom Davies has demonstrated in the past that he can make an impact for Everton when he gets regular game time. However, Everton’s managerial carousel over the past few seasons has prevented that from consistently happening.
With the injury situations of Everton’s other midfielders, this just might be Davies’ time to shine. Like Gomes, Davies is a player who is better suited to a midfield three. When Davies is playing with confidence, he has the ability to carry the ball forward and pick out effective passes. Having an extra body in midfield gives him the license to do so more regularly.
The 23-year-old has yet to start a Premier League game this season. Especially if Gomes has not completely recovered from his injury, this could change as soon as this Saturday.
Everton’s squad depth has been a big concern over the past few seasons. Injuries like the ones to Calvert-Lewin and Doucoure really hammer that point home.
Rafa Benitez has a reputation for being a manager who is capable of adapting his teams in order to get the best out of the players available to him. He has shown that versatility already this season, switching from a 4-4-2 to a 4-2-3-1 at times.
This injury crisis is sure to send Benitez back to the drawing board. So far Rafa has done a good job of getting his players to perform as a unit that is greater than the sum of its parts.
Let’s hope that trend continues despite the missing pieces.
Featured image courtesy of @abdoudoucoure16.
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