Everton manager Rafael Benitez is hopeful influential midfielder Abdoulaye Doucoure will be fit enough to return this weekend to help ease his selection problems.
The Spaniard currently has at least six senior players injured and Mason Holgate and Richarlison suspended for Sunday’s trip to Brentford.
Doucoure has missed four matches with a broken metatarsal but returned to training this week and could immediately go back into the starting line-up, so slim are Benitez’s resources.
Rafael Benitez (left) remains hopeful he will have his key midfielder available for Brentford
Abdoulaye Doucoure has missed the last four games, but could feature this weekend
‘He has been training today so it is one player who maybe could be available. I think Doucoure has a chance,’ said the Everton manager.
‘Because it is a metatarsal injury if he is fine, he is fine. It is not like a muscle problem where we have to be careful.
‘We have to be sure close to the game everything has healed and the player is confident.
‘If it is like that it is always a risk when you come back from injury but not a massive risk.’
Demarai Gray suffered a groin injury in the 2-0 defeat to Manchester City last weekend
Dominic Calvert-Lewin is sidelined with a thigh injury, and has been a huge miss for Everton
Benitez also received better news on Demarai Gray, who was forced off with a groin problem against Manchester City last weekend.
‘He was doing a very light training session today so we will see if he can be available. Maybe we don’t have too much time but it (the injury) was less than we were expecting.’
Benitez will still definitely be without Yerry Mina (hamstring), Dominic Calvert-Lewin (thigh), Andre Gomes (calf) and Tom Davies (knee).