Everton’s struggles on the pitch mean it’s time for every hand to the pump right now, but for this weekend’s visit of Leeds United, Yerry Mina, Demarai Gray and Vitaliy Mykolenko will not be available for the Toffees.
Speaking during his pre-match press conference today, manager Frank Lampard gave the timeline on the return for the trio, and as always it’s good news and bad news.
“Yerry Mina’s unfortunate injury means he’ll be about 8-10 weeks, it’s a strong injury around his quad. He’s a big leader in the group, and Demarai also, they’ll be a big miss. We were aware straight away of how serious it was and our worst fears were confirmed in terms of him being out for a while. Yerry’s a big personality here, I’ve seen him a few times since I’ve been in here, he’s a positive man who we’ll miss, but we have to be positive around him and move on in the short term until he’s back.
“Demarai won’t be available for Leeds, but it’s a minor knock around his hip, and hopefully expect him to be fit for next week with some luck.
“Fabian Delph’s not ready yet. He’ll be hopefully a couple of weeks away, making good progress. Dominic [Calvert-Lewin] is in the squad, was on the bench against Newcastle and is available for this one tomorrow. He’s been working all week, we’ll decide [if he’s ready to start] tomorrow.”
Lampard later confirmed that Mykolenko is out for tomorrow too after reportedly missing out last week with an inconclusive COVID test which likely came back a positive.
Regarding the dire centrehalf situation with now Mina joining Ben Godfrey on the sidelines, Lampard was asked if he was considering some radical solutions such as Jean-Philippe Gbamin who has also played there, or switching to a back-four.
“I was looking forward to working with players like Ben and Yerry, international players, but we do have options on players there who have to step up - and have been stepping up to be fair - but the options are getting tight. You always want to have a full squad especially when you are in the position we are in so they are big misses for us I can’t deny, but we’ll have to adjust around it.
“I have confidence in the squad, but we just have to dig in. There’s always injuries - [Abdoulaye] Doucoure is still out, and to me he is one of the best midfielders in the Premier League of his type, that’s the kind of energy we would love to have.”
Dele Alli had an uninspired debut for the Blues at Newcastle, playing almost an hour but not making much of an impact on the game.
“We need to work and it’s for me to find the right time to bring him in. We shouldn’t expect instant reactions from a player who hasn’t played that much. I thought we did okay when he came on, and we will do better, that’s just a work in progress.
“He wants to be a big player for us going forward. In the short term we just have to manage that situation.”
The new manager was asked if he was satisfied with the debuts for both his deadline day signings, Dele and fellow midfielder Donny van de Beek.
“I thought they both did okay. I think there were flashes of Dele as we see him and we know him, that’s understandable. We had two big injuries in the first half which affected my hand as such, I didn’t want to have to give Dele so many minutes in his first appearance. He handled them well physically and will be the better for that performance.
“With Donny I was affected again in terms of him being the third sub, he came on at a difficult time and he showed really nice bits of midfield play, he’s shown up for the ball.”
Youngster Anthony Gordon has come along in leaps and bounds this season, what are Lampard’s thoughts on the forward?
“I’ve been hugely impressed. From afar he looks a very, very talented young player who clearly has a strong connection with the fans and the club, which is always a plus and it means so much to both sides.
“But from working from him he’s a really good lad, he wants to train every day and do his best and improve every day and engage with you. In terms of talent, he’s a top young player. I don’t want to put too much on his shoulders but he has some improvement to do, add some goals, some assists, work off the ball and all that. He’s got all those things, just needs to keep improving.
“To see a player as engaging as him, that’s what makes you happy to come to work every day, I am very happy with Anthony and he’ll get better and better I believe.”
Everton’s second signing of the January transfer window was Nathan Patterson, but the teenager has not seen any league action as yet.
“I’ve been impressed with Nathan. It’s not been easy to be fair to the players, they need to train well. We like to make the training sessions intensive, I’ve only seen bits of him previously.
“But when we’re in the situation we’re in, our duty is to make sure we develop young players and find the right time for them to play. So far in two games that hasn’t been the right time. People think I love to stick in young players in my teams, and I do when they deserve it. That’s not to say that he doesn’t, but at the minute the captain of the club Seamus Coleman has been so impressive, for a long time at the club.
“The club has signed him for the future and for the now, and when he gets his opportunity I want to see him grab it.”
Everton did sign five players during the January window, but the fifth seems to have gone under the radar quite a bit. How does Lampard see Anwar El Ghazi contributing to the relegation dogfight the Toffees are stuck in?
“I think he can offer quite a bit. He’s a talented player, I know that from going up against him as a coach and seeing him from afar. It’s an area we do have personnel in the wide and attacking areas.
“At times all of those players in that will have to understand they might have to wait. He has a slightly different skillset from our other players, he’s very good one-v-one, and Anwar can hopefully have an impact for us.”