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Silva refuses to rule Mina out of Tottenham clash

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Blues boss also praised Mason Holgate’s performances in the last two matches

Everton FC v Watford FC - Carabao Cup Round of 16
Silva’s Everton got a much-needed win against Watford in the Carabao Cup on Tuesday
Photo by Jan Kruger/Getty Images

Everton manager Marco Silva says central defender Yerry Mina may be fit for Sunday’s visit of Tottenham Hotspur despite his recent injury concerns.

Mina missed last weekend’s defeat at Brighton & Hove Albion due to a knee injury, and was substituted for Michael Keane in the first half of Tuesday’s Carabao Cup home win over Watford.

But Silva, speaking at his pre-match press conference on Friday, has said his issue is nothing overly serious and that he may make the Tottenham match:

“He’s worked with the team this morning. Like I said after the match, it’s nothing serious, what he has in his knee at the moment. We did the normal exams again after the match. It’s nothing serious.

“It’s a matter of him to just have the conditions to support the pain he has at the moment, and if he can do that, he can train and possibly play as well. Today he did all of the morning session; let’s see how he reacts tomorrow and afterwards, we’ll take the decision.

“We didn’t take the risk [to play Mina] against Brighton. He had travelled with us but stayed out of the squad list. He worked two days before the game against Watford and together we took the decision; he felt a little bit of pain.

“Our solutions for central defenders are not in a big number [three]. Michael was on the bench and came in, and played at a good level as well. Mina rested for two days, and let’s see how he’ll do tomorrow, but it looks nothing special.”

Everton go into this weekend’s match on the back of that 2-0 win over Watford, which saw Silva make five changes from the starting line-up in the Brighton defeat.

Asked whether certain players who featured in the Watford victory had given him a selection dilemma for the Spurs game, he replied:

“[They are] Different games. We decided the XI for Watford because we thought that was our best XI. Some players are working really hard to get their chance and we gave them it. Some of them, we have to manage their physical condition as well.

“It’s normal when you play on Saturday and again on Tuesday, but we achieved the main thing - the win. The performance was better in the second half than the first half; we clearly deserved the win, we were the better team on the pitch and we kept our patience during the game, which is one of the main things when you playing these kind of cup ties as well.

“This will be a different game. We have the players in good conditions. It’s up to me to decide our strategy against the opposition to decide what the XI will be.”

With Mina having missed most of the last two matches, Mason Holgate, 23, has deputised, and scored his first Everton goal when he put the Blues ahead against Watford on Tuesday.

Holgate has particularly impressed in the last week, having had to bid his time at Everton after being loaned out to Championship side West Bromwich Albion for the second half of last season.

But Silva said he had a private conversation with Holgate earlier in the campaign and is delighted to see his improvements since then:

“It was a very good moment for him. When you score your first goal in a blue shirt, it’s always an important moment, and he did that, but an important moment for the team as well.

“He was working really well. We had that conversation like I normally have with some of them. He felt it was an important moment to have a chat with me. It was a very honest conversation; I told him what he needs to improve and what I’d like to see more of. To be fair to him, he’s trying to do everything I ask of him, understanding our defensive model better each day.

“He played two good games, he’s still young, but he’ll have more experience having played at this moment. It was important; to just have three central defenders is tough for us, but the competition is there between them.

“Mason is different to the other two. He’s a player who can give more speed and agility than the others; on the ball, he’s good as well. But all three are very good players and can help the team, depending on our strategy and our plan to win the match.”

Silva also confirmed that, other than Mina and the two long-term absentees in Bernard and Jean-Philippe Gbamin, everyone else in Everton’s squad is definitely available for Sunday’s game.