The season may still be less than a month old but already the depth of Marco Silva’s Everton squad is being severely tested ahead of the visit of Huddersfield.
The club casually published a mildly horrendous update shortly before Wednesday’s Rotherham game revealing a spate of fresh injury problems.
Phil Jagielka is out for at least three weeks with a knee cartilage problem, Idrissa Gueye also has a knee injury, Bernard has picked up a muscle strain while Andre Gomes has suffered a setback in his comeback from a hamstring problem.
With Yerry Mina still nursing a foot complaint, Beni Baningime out with an ankle problem, Richarlison suspended and Michael Keane sidelined with a fractured skull, things suddenly look a little stretched.
To that end the international break will perhaps come at a good time, allowing those knocks and niggles to clear up before the season really steps up a gear in the autumn.
To focus purely on the injury situation though would also neglect what has been a largely positive start to the season. The Toffees remain unbeaten and progressed through to the third round of the Carabao Cup courtesy of a 3-1 win over Rotherham.
Toffees fans were were uneasy when they saw the teamsheet, which saw eight changes to the side that drew at Bournemouth. Given our desperation for a trophy - even a cup run - the last thing we wanted to see was a limp exit at the hands of lower division opposition because of weakened team selection.
Thankfully the players had enough to ease their way through and keep our Wembley dreams alive - for now.
Attention will now switch back to the league and the visit of Huddersfield. Victory would make it eight points from four games, a solid return given the upheaval endured both on and off the pitch over the summer.
Huddersfield seem to relish proving people wrong. The Terriers were considered outsiders for the Championship play-offs in 2017 but beat Sheffield Wednesday and Reading to return to the top flight for the first time since 1972.
David Wagner’s side were promptly made favourites for relegation but defied pre-season expectations to stay up with a game to spare.
With newly-promoted Wolves and Fulham spending big over the summer Huddersfield again find themselves the prime candidates for the drop. That’s been demonstrated by their tough start to the season which has seen them take one point from three games and crash out of the Carabao Cup to Stoke. Securing a third successive Premier League season for the Yorkshire club would arguably be Wagner’s finest achievement.
Despite being one of the smaller sides in the division they certainly have a proud history, including three successive first division titles in the 1920s. Town were regular opponents of Everton until they were relegated in the early ‘50s. The two sides have met just nine times since a 1-0 win for Huddersfield in 1956. The Toffees did do the double over Huddersfield last season, winning two nil on both occasions.
As mentioned earlier in the piece Everton have a number of injury problems ahead of Saturday’s game at Goodison Park.
Phil Jagielka, Beni Baningime, Yerry Mina, Andre Gomes and Michael Keane are absent, while Bernard and Idrissa Gueye are almost certainly going to miss out too.
With Richarlison still suspended it will be interesting to see who fills in on that left forward slot. Dominic Calvert-Lewin is the most likely candidate after his two goals in midweek.
Ademola Lookman has recovered from the alleged groin injury the club said kept him out of the Rotherham game. It was clear he wanted a move to Leipzig but with the window now shut he needs to focus on football again.
Predicted starting XI
Despite being unbeaten so far there’s a nagging feeling Everton could - and perhaps should - have taken more, particularly at Bournemouth last weekend. There would be a similar feeling of disappointment if the Blues fail to pick up three points on Saturday.
Injuries and suspensions are already starting to bite but the team should have enough to secure the win and wrap up what has been a generally positive opening to the season.