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Dyche on Tarkowski as captain, provides injury update on multiple players

The manager had his first official pre-match press conference of the new season

Everton Pre-Season Training Session Photo by Tony McArdle/Everton FC via Getty Images

Just like that the new season is upon us again, and whether we have signed up for it or not, Everton are here again to dominate our days and preoccupy our nights. The Blues start off the 2023/24 campaign with a home tilt against former manager Marco Silva and his Fulham side that faded away towards the end of the season after a bright start.

The Toffees go into the new season with some injury turmoil, much of it carrying over from last season. Club captain Seamus Coleman is still recovering from surgery and will not be fit to start for some time yet. In his absence during the pre-season, James Tarkowski wore the captain’s armband even while last season’s vice-captain Jordan Pickford was on the pitch, and during his first pre-match press conference earlier today the manager explained his thinking.

“It’s one of them, to be honest there’s a reason. I spoke to Jordan and I spoke to Seamus – to be clear Seamus is club captain and team captain as long as he’s fit and he’s well and he’s playing.

“I just wanted an on-pitch (leader) as in literally on the pitch. From a keeper’s point of view, I remember Tom (Heaton) was captain for a while in the absence of Ben Mee and things like that but generally speaking I’ve always liked an on-field captain in the sense of being higher up the pitch as they can affect things more.

“Jordan is his own kind of captain anyway. He’s a very, very experienced player and he was absolutely understanding of the situation, it was a very simple thing. Nothing has changed with Seamus. If Seamus is fit and well and when he does get fit and well and is playing, then he’s captain.”

Tarkowski looked to have picked up a knee injury leaving the game late on in last weekend’s friendly against Sporting CP, but thankfully the only outfield player in the whole league to play every minute of every game last season is okay to go on Saturday.

“Yes, we were more being cautious over the last couple of games as you can imagine. The squad is still a bit skinny.

“We’ve got a couple in with loans and stuff but we’ve got injuries still that are still going to take a bit of time. It’s more managing the players but no he’s fine.”

Stoke City v Everton - Pre-Season Friendly Photo by Matt McNulty/Getty Images

Lead striker Dominic Calvert-Lewin played the first half of that game and got the winner too from the penalty spot, but after all his injury issues Dyche was being coy with his prospects for this weekend on whether he would start or be on the bench.

“He just needs more game time Dom because unfortunately the games have just run out in pre-season for him. If it was a couple of weeks earlier then we could have got more game time in.

“He’s fit and well generally, it’s just finishing off the games programme and so long as he comes through that then he’ll certainly be looking forward to having him back.

“We’ll have to make a call about that. I’ve spoken to him anyway and how he’s feeling so we’ll make a call on that.”

Dele is also recovering from late season hip surgery and has been in training with the squad, but looks to have hit a roadblock in his comeback.

“Dele unfortunately has had a setback. He’s fine in himself which is important of course after the recent news.

“He’s had a setback when he was just getting fit and back in training so that wasn’t ideal. He needs a bit of time and he’s got time anyway, we know that to make sure he’s well on the pitch and off the pitch.”

Stoke City v Everton - Pre-Season Friendly Photo by Matt McNulty/Getty Images

Dwight McNeil had to leave the win at Stoke City after going down heavily from a tackle from behind, and the Blues are going to be without him for some time it looks like.

“Dwight unfortunately, it’s not going to be days, it’s going to be weeks. Not loads of weeks, we’ll wait and see but certainly it won’t be days so that’s an unfortunate one.

“It’s an ankle ligament injury but he’s not – in my experience – ever been injured very often so we’re hopeful that his body deals with that one pretty quick.”

Finally, Coleman has been ever-present at Finch Farm throughout his recovery but is yet to train.

“Seamus is coming through a natural part of his rehab. His is more of a timescale thing as regards to the plan that was in place for that type of injury.”

With the transfer window still open, the Blues do have some time to try to address the areas of need, but it looks like Youssef Chermiti is close to being announced as the third signing of the summer.

Quotes via the Liverpool Echo