With the opening fixture against Fulham looming, Everton face a number of fitness headaches. There are question marks over the availability of a number of both core and fringe players. Let’s take a look at some of the most crucial.
McNeil set for layoff
Most concerning for Sean Dyche’s plans is the fitness of Dwight McNiel. Having filled roles as a classic winger, an inside forward and even right wing-back for the team last season, a pre-season ankle injury will force McNeil into a spell on the sidelines.
Specifics have been hard to come by, but the manager himself relayed that the player will “face a little period out.” Paul Joyce, meanwhile put the timeframe at “weeks”. It remains to be seen if the absence of one of last season’s best performers will effect Dyche’s plan against Fulham. With further concerns over Arnaud Danjuma, it seems likely that either Alex Iwobi or James Garner would slot into McNeils place on the left side of midfield.
Fitness race for Danjuma
New signing Arnaud Danjuma faces a race against time to be ready to make his debut at Goodison on Saturday. A “knock” picked up in training kept the Nigerian off the grass for a number of days, however he has since shared photos of himself back in first team training.
Given the Toffee’s lack of firepower and creativity last season, fans will be hoping that their new man can shrug off the injury and take the field on Saturday.
Good signs & caution
The friendly against Sporting Lisbon on Saturday provided some cheer for Blues, however, as Dominic Calvert Lewin produced a sharp 45 minutes and a penalty goal. The forward looked good holding up the ball and was a constant presence in the Sporting penalty area. It remains to be seen if his injury problems are behind him or if he’s ready to start against Fulham, this however was encouraging.
For James Tarkowski, substituted in the 2nd half with a knee injury, things also seem more positive. The manager spoke about replacing the defender with Michael Keane as being “ultra careful” ahead of the season opener and fans can be hopeful of his participation at the weekend.
Dyche meanwhile shared that Dele Alli was “Miles away” from being back in first team colours. The update only added to the intrigue regarding the midfielder’s Everton future.