Everton get needed Richarlison boost ahead of Watford clash

Well, after a difficult week and plenty of bad news, Everton got a much-needed boost as Richarlison returned to full training this week ahead of the Watford game.

This will be a huge plus for Everton boss Rafa Benitez as he thinks about the team he will pick to take on the Brazilian’s old club on Saturday.

Richarlison’s absence along with his strike partner Dominic Calvert-Lewin has been a massive problem and has hampered Benitez’s ability to get the most out of the much-improved attacking creativity his summer signings have produced.

Those two signings, Andros Townsend and Demarai Gray have provided pace, width and goals a-plenty and have given the Toffees increasingly anemic attack at the end of last season, a big shot in the arm.

They were at it again in Sunday’s match against West Ham and while chances were at a premium in the game, they did create a few decent opportunities which Alex Iwobi and Salomon Rondon both couldn’t take.

Obviously, to make the most out of what the summer additions can offer, Benitez needs to have both his first-choice international centre-forwards available.

Calvert-Lewin is still not fit enough to play but thankfully Richarlison looks as though he is at last ready again to take to the field against the Hornets, although it’s not certain he will start.

The other really big selection issue facing Benitez is who is going to replace the outstandingly effective Abdoulaye Doucoure in midfield after the club revealed his latest injury this week? The obvious point is that no one can replace the Frenchman and what he has been offering Everton this campaign.

I speculated it might be Jean-Phlippe Gbamin who gets the nod as he is also fit again (although who knows for how long!) but young midfielder Tyler Onyango also trained with the first team so might he get a chance to impress off the bench perhaps?

I imagine Gbamin will get the nod although Tom Davies is another option with Doucoure’s partner Allan then perhaps asked to do a more attacking role himself.  He has tended to play the more orthodox defensive holding role alongside Doucoure but he’s certainly capable of operating in a more offensive way.

In defence Benitez seems to have all his first-choice players available with Yerry Mina now back from South America and rested enough to be considered for a start against Watford and thankfully both full-backs are fit again as well.

As for the Hornets after a bright start and a fine opening day win against Aston Villa they have been enduring a tough season back in the Premier League, and following a poor run of results have recently appointed Claudio Ranieri as their new manager.

Ranieri of course won the Premier League with Leicester City in that most improbable of seasons in 2015-16. Everton’s Gray was a member of that title-winning squad and hopefully he will produce a good performance at the weekend and remind Ranieri what he is capable of.

Weirdly enough the Hornets are coming off a home drubbing by Liverpool just as Norwich did before they came to Goodison Park after the Blues last league loss to Villa. A similar response and result from the home team on Saturday would do nicely.

The Blues also really need a win to restore some positive momentum over the next few weeks as they have some winnable matches coming up, starting with Saturday, to try to ensure they can keep pace with the leading teams in the league.