Toffees everywhere were stunned to see Lucas Digne dropped not just from the starting lineup for the Everton win against Arsenal on Monday but completely out of the squad. Rafa Benitez’s non-committal statements before and after the game only fuelled the flames of reports of discord between the pair, and it looks like the manager is continuing to take that stance ahead of this weekend’s trip to Crystal Palace.
When asked during his press conference on what the fullback would need to do to regain his spot, Benitez remained vague.
“I think Lucas was clear, it’s the manager’s decision. He has been training today and we will decide tomorrow, it’s a normal situation with a player that is training. We will see tomorrow if he’s available or not.
“We need all the players around, because that increases the competition in the team. But at the same time, everybody has to be focused and has to realise the priority is the team. That’s it.
“I don’t want to talk too much about individuals, I think it’s not fair for the group. The Team was doing really well the other day and he has to show it.
“What he has to do is just be sure he continues working hard and that the team is ahead of any individuals, that’s it.”
The manager was pleased with how Ben Godfrey deputized out on the left, though apart from a couple of thundering tackles, the young defender did precious little to make a case for himself to stay in the fullback position either.
“Very good. He was one of the key points for us in terms of getting the three points. Everybody knows how dangerous Bukayo Saka is, he was controlling him quite well.”
Is Everton’s injury situation going to be a factor in Everton’s plans for the upcoming January transfer window?
“Not really. We know more or less what we want. The point here is if we can get what we want — transfer windows are always difficult, and January is even more difficult — we are working now on the games we have ahead and after that we will keep an eye on the January transfer window.
“At the moment, my main job is to concentrate on the games. At the same time, the club is trying to manage and see how is the new structure. They are working on that.
“You keep an eye on that, but as I say the priority for me is just the games.”
Director of Football Marcel Brands was relieved of his duties last weekend, with Everton also announcing that they are conducting a structural review of the football model at the club.
“We have conversations all the time, we are doing that regularly. We talk about ideas, and after the owner and the Board will decide which way they want to go. For me I give my feedback if I have to do it and to concentrate on games.
“I have been in football for so many years, and normally in Spain and in Italy you have a director of football. I don’t have any issue with a director of football, manager or head coach or whatever. It’s about choosing the right one for Everton and hopefully we can be successful with that.”