In a repeat of his last two news conferences, Sean Dyche says he faces a number of “touch-and-go” decisions ahead of selecting his Everton side for the FA Cup third round clash with Crystal Palace at Selhurst Park on Thursday evening.
“These are the decisions that will be made. There are people who are touch-and-go, then [it’s a case of] do you play them or do you not, as you can imagine. We hope to have a couple back in with the idea of playing or certainly being in the squad.”
Specifically, Dyche addressed Idrissa Gueye, Ashley Young, Abdoulaye Doucoure and Dele:
“Idrissa Gueye probably will go to AFCON. He’s still here at the moment, undergoing treatment, but if that treatment comes to an end by early next week then it is within [Senegal’s] power to call him up.
Dele’s being assessed, he’s got an injury that still needs time. Youngy has been out on the grass but on the medical side. He’s still got a bit to go but it’s nice to see him back out on the grass.”
Possibly the biggest miss over the last few games has been Doucoure. Dyche confirmed that he is, “Just about [in full training] but it will be a touch and go scenario.” This would appear to signal a place on the bench for the Malian international who will not be going to the Africa Cup of Nations.
With the transfer window opening this week, there were certainly questions being asked about possible moves. Dyche was pragmatic in his responses and continued to emphasize his focus on the team and the match ahead.
“That would be down to the powers that be. They will make the decisions, inevitably. They will ask my advice, I’m sure, and it’s fair to say we’ve got a more rounded squad that, apart from the obvious 10-point situation, has performed better and is showing signs of progress.
“You don’t really want to start taking that to pieces, and certainly not midway through a season, but the club might view it differently. We’ll have to wait and see.”
It was interesting that he alluded to the dismantling of the team which would send a clear message to Kevin Thelwell that he would be opposed to losing critical players during the window which would disrupt the team building upon which he is so focused.
This match ends a gruelling month where Everton played eight games in 29 days but have three matches in 27 days to start the new year. Dyche has reported that he will give his squad several days off after the trip to Selhurst Park, even though Everton’s “official” winter break is after the Premier League game against Aston Villa on 14 January.
“We have a break this weekend but that’s just because of the Palace game. After the Villa game is the actual winter break. I don’t see the point of it when you’ve just had so many games in December. It’s not that beneficial. It would be better to lose one or two of these games in December and put them in there to spread it out. That’s a better scenario.
It’s a more level playing field then. With more games, the big clubs are bound to gain because of their big squads. But when you haven’t got a big squad, like us, and you get injuries, you’re bound to be stretched. If you put a couple of games in that break then it is more level across the season. I’ll be surprised if that break doesn’t disappear, just from the scheduling.”
So, the FA Cup arrives at the end of this difficult period and Dyche reiterated his desire to honour the competition and select a team that shows a desire to compete in the competition.
“I’ve made it clear that we want to win every game. We want to put a team out that can win every game. There are certain parts of the team that have been very successful in terms of the way they are playing as individuals and as a collective. We want to put out a side that I believe can win, that’s certainly our mentality and viewpoint.”
It will be interesting to see how he plays his cards on this one with the need to rotate, freshen up the squad, and still deliver a team that will compete and get us into the next round’s draw.