With such a quick turnaround between Tottenham and the arrival of Manchester City, Sean Dyche has had his comments released after they were embargoed after the Everton vs Tottenham match. His comments included injury updates, the visit of new World Club Cup champions City and how he manages the team during the festive period.
His team news for the match was not very encouraging with Abdoulaye Doucoure still recovering from a hamstring injury picked up at Burnley earlier this month.
“No, I don’t think for City. I think that’s a bit close. He’s making good progress and we’re hoping he gets back on the grass in the next few days - not straight away with us, but just in his return to fitness. We have to be careful because we keep getting players back fit, but then we start running out again.
Idrissa Gueye is struggling to be ready for the City game after leaving the Tottenham match early with discomfort following a challenge.
“Idrissa has got an injury which doesn’t look that promising on the first showing. We’ll find out more in the coming days. We’re trying to balance the games programme against the squad, and against the injuries, and the risk and reward of players coming in.
It is the risk and reward that is so important with so many games in such a short period. Even with the MOTM performance from Andre Gomes, Dyche is cautious and knows that putting too much strain on a returning player can be problematic with the worry of a setback possible.
“Even with Andre, it wasn’t ideal for him to come on so early in the game [at Spurs]. I thought he handled it very well physically. I had plans to put him in the game later, but needs must at the moment.”
The game against City has been a challenge for Everton with only one win in their last 12 matches. Last year, the Blues were able to get a draw on New Years Eve after Demarai Gray’s stunning strike earned an unlikely point for Frank Lampard’s struggling side.
“With all the travelling and things they’ve won, I’m not saying they’re used to everything, and this is probably slightly different. But at the end of the day, I don’t think they’ll be travelling in economy. I think they’ll be well-looked after. So, I’m not going to over-egg the physical side of it.
They’ve got so many good players, they’ll still put out a very strong side. If it does help, then great. We’ll take all the help we can get, but the focus will be on us performing.”
Early team news suggests that Haaland and Doku will be touch and go to play but Rodri should be available after being taken off in the Club World Cup final after a scything tackle.