Everton have been given a welcome boost after a tough few weeks with news that Demarai Gray’s groin injury is not as serious as first feared.
The Toffees winger looked in considerable pain when pulling up during the first half against Manchester City on Sunday and had to be substituted.
There were fears Gray could be out for up to six weeks, adding to Everton’s already considerable injury list.
However, speaking to reporters to preview Sunday’s trip to Brentford Rafa Benitez said the former Leicester City man has been able to take part in light training, though he remains a severe doubt for the Bees clash.
“[Gray] was doing a light training session today. Very light.
“So we will see if he can be available. Maybe he will not have too much time but it [the injury] was less than we were expecting.”
When asked about the other injury absentees Benitez confirmed Abdoulaye Doucoure was closest to a return after recovering from a broken foot, but Yerry Mina, Dominic Calvert-Lewin and Tom Davies were not yet ready to return.
“The one that was expected because it was a metatarsal injury was Doucoure.
“He has been training today so he’s one player that maybe could be available. We have four or five [injuries] so we cannot control the injury of Tom Davies, because it was a knee problem.
“The others are getting closer, but I think Doucoure has a chance.
“Because it’s a metatarsal issue - if he’s fine, he’s fine. It’s not a muscle problem where you say we have to be careful because you can overload.
“We have to be sure that he goes to the game if he’s available fine, everything is healed and he’s confident. If he’s like that, it’s always a risk when you come back from injury, but it’s not a massive risk.
“Yerry is doing well but still not ready. Obviously Dominic not yet.
“We are bringing back some players. The problem is some of the key players we are missing, it seems they are more important because we are not winning.
“The reality is that we have less injuries and we are getting better in this department.”
Everton will be further depleted against Brentford after Richarlison picked up his fifth yellow card of the season against City, meaning he misses Sunday’s game through suspension.
Benitez says the Brazilian is aware that he needs to show more discipline going forward, even if provoked.
The Toffees boss also appeared to confirm that Salomon Rondon or Cenk Tosun will lead the line in his absence, ahead of academy products Ellis Simms and Lewis Dobbin.
“He [Richarlison] knows it is too early to get five yellow cards. He has to realise he cannot react sometimes, he has to stay more calm. Sometimes his frustration and reaction is out of control. He needs to be more aware of that.
“We have two experienced players - Tosun and Rondon - available and a young player who was injured & coming back in Simms. Normally these types of games are for players with experience.”