Sam Allardyce has confirmed defender Eliaquim Mangala could miss the rest of the season with a knee injury.
Times reporter Paul Joyce revealed last week that Mangala faced a “lengthy spell out” with the injury suffered against Crystal Palace last Saturday.
It was just Mangala’s second appearance in an Everton shirt following his deadline day loan move from Manchester City.
The left-footed defender was supposed to add some much needed balance to the Toffees backline.
Sadly, it seems the 27-year-old faces a battle to play again this season, with chances of a permanent move to Goodison Park also now looking unlikely.
When asked about the injury situation while in Dubai, Allardyce confirmed what we already suspected:
“The injuries this week were a blow, with Mangala in particular - that looks like it could be long-term, which is a great shame for him and for us because I think he was a very good addition to us.”
Despite the obvious blow of losing yet another player to injury, Allardyce was keen to stress the positives from their mid-season warm-weather training camp in Dubai.
Leighton Baines and Phil Jagielka are edging closer to a return, while Seamus Coleman is also building up his fitness.
Allardyce is also hopeful the break will improve squad unity and spark a strong finish to the season - starting with next Saturday’s trip to Watford.
“The quality of the training sessions in this weather and the level that we’ve reached in terms of the quality of the training, because of the quality of the facility, the weather and the environment, it’s been everything we wanted and more.
“We’ve been able to relax together and work hard together and I think it has helped bring relationships closer. Some are already friends and some will have made bigger friends with others and, of course, the big thing about it for us all is to get to know each other better – not just the players but the players and the staff as well.
“It’s been a great few days because we can speak on a more relaxed basis rather than when we had the tension of training through the Christmas period and game after game after game.
“The first thought was the players who have played a huge amount of games this season, so they could recharge the batteries physically and mentally, with the injured players to join in as well.
“It will help to speed up the recovery – we’ve got one of the best healing processes over my shoulder here and that’s the sea. Getting the lads swimming in the sea not only helps the lads to recover who have been training but also the lads recovering from their injuries. They can have lots more sessions and treatment to get them recovered more quickly.
“Seamus Coleman, we hope, will be fit very quickly and, if we can get Phil Jagielka and Leighton Baines back in the squad quickly, then we are stronger in terms of our selection.”