While Everton remain unbeaten this season and have plenty of reasons to be positive, the team’s growling injury list is still a source of nagging concern.
The squad currently have more injuries than points so far, with Seamus Coleman the latest player to pick up a knock while on international duty with Ireland.
Two of Everton’s summer signings were injured before they even signed, meaning Andre Gomes and Yerry Mina have yet to pull on a blue shirt. Fellow new arrival Bernard made a late substitute appearance at Bournemouth before being sidelined with a minor muscle injury.
It means no more than two of Everton’s summer signings have ever been on the pitch at the same time - a stat aided by Richarlison’s red card at the Vitality Stadium.
But for captain Phil Jagielka, the chance to slowly introduce new faces to the side - even if it’s due to injury and suspension - has actually helped the team.
Speaking to the official site, Jags said:
“The fact there has not been a desperate need to start six or seven new players has been good. It has been one or two changes at a time.
“Then, if you can slowly build the new players into a team that is confident and playing well, it will be good for them
“It is a bit different from some previous years when we had four, five or six new players in the side and it was more difficult to settle [as a team].”
The last comment is surely a dig at last season’s botched recruitment drive, with Ronald Koeman and Steve Walsh signing every player under the sun before attempting to shoehorn them into the same starting XI.
It is also likely that Jags is merely trying to look at the bright side of the club’s injury woes, though there is some sense in holding a new signing back and allowing him to settle in before throwing him onto the pitch.
Mina and Bernard could both return to the squad for Sunday’s game against West Ham, with Gomes still a couple of weeks away. Lucas Digne and Kurt Zouma are likely to retain their places in the side after making their first Premier League starts against Huddersfield last time out.
Jagielka has been full of praise at the way the new faces have adapted to life at Finch Farm, even if some of them have yet to make an impact on the pitch.
“We could not have asked for a better bunch and all the new lads have been great. A few of them are still to get on the pitch but they are trying really hard. The squad is looking very healthy.
“We want to get the new lads out there to make an impact but the boys on the pitch have done a really good job.
“As long as the lads keep doing well at the moment, when the new boys come in they will, hopefully, settle in extra well, perform better and keep us at the top end of the table.
“You have to bring in the right people, players who are prepared to compete [for places] in the right way. And when you look at the lads who have come in, it is so far, so good.
“They are super positive... it is smiles all the way and, hopefully, that will be the case throughout the season.
“It is still early days but we are seeing glimpses [of the style Silva is instilling]. Having the continuity of those players who have been here at least a year, along with a couple of the new players, has helped. But there is plenty of room for improvement and we have a lot of quality still to come in.”