Rafael Benitez has confirmed Jordan Pickford and Lucas Digne are back in training ahead of Everton’s match with Norwich on Saturday, but the Toffees will again be without a number of players for the game at Goodison Park.
Pickford has missed the last two matches with a shoulder problem while Digne was forced off against QPR on Tuesday with an ankle injury.
But Benitez says they could be in contention after training normally at Finch Farm. The Spaniard added that Dominic Calvert-Lewin, Seamus Coleman and Richarlison are “getting better” but are still unavailable.
That could mean a third start in seven days for Salomon Rondon, who is desperately short of match fitness having not played for four months before joining the Blues.
“Pickford is okay, has been training, Lucas [Digne] is okay. The others are getting better but remain out.
“No he’s[Richarlison] not available. The two strikers are not available so we have to make sure the people around are capable to score goals. We have done with different players. It’s a question of time for him [Rondon]. He has to improve his fitness.”
To add to the mounting injury list, Benitez said Andre Gomes and Jean-Philippe Gbamin will also miss out on Saturday, depleting the midfield options.
Benitez also added that there was “no chance” Richarlison, Calvert-Lewin and Coleman would be fit to represent their countries in the next international break, which is just two weeks away.
The Spaniard is understandably keen to avoid the scenario of nursing the trio back to fitness before sending them off around the world, so those extra two weeks to rest during the break should hopefully ensure they are fit and firing when domestic action resumes.
The absence of Coleman has led to rumours Everton will bring in some short-term cover, with former Tottenham full-back Serge Aurier linked with a move.
Those rumours were shot down by Benitez, who says the club needs to take a long-term approach to transfers.
“I don’t see a clear option with that. Now we need to find solutions, but we have to be sure the solutions are not just for the next couple of months.”
A home match against bottom-of-the-table Norwich represents a great chance for Everton to bounce back after successive defeats, with Benitez stressing the importance of maintaining home form.
There was also a note of caution against complacency, with Toffees fans sure to point out that Norwich won 2-0 the last time they came to Goodison in 2019.
“It’s really important for us. Especially at home I think the fans appreciate the commitment and intensity. Norwich are more dangerous than people think. They can make mistakes, but they can be a nightmare.”
Aside from the last week Everton’s start to the season has been good and Benitez is keen to stress the positives.
He also believes the fans will continue to back the side even if results don’t go their way as long as they show desire and commitment.
“Yeah it’s [the start] been really good. The way we were playing and reacting, the fans appreciate that. It’s more Everton’s style. I’m 100% convinced we will continue improving. It’s a question of finding a solution to these issues.”
“It’s part of football you have good games, some not so good. What are they expecting - commitment, passion? They have that.”