Everton: Dyche must experiment to £17.7m ‘speedster’ to combat Calvert-Lewin absence

Everton (Photo by Steve Christo - Corbis/Corbis via Getty Images)
Everton (Photo by Steve Christo - Corbis/Corbis via Getty Images) /

Everton will be without Dominic Calvert-Lewin against Aston Villa which again raises the question that who will lead the frontline? Everton top scorer Demarai Gray could be potentially experimented in a central role.

When Sean Dyche took over at Everton, it was expected that he will change the shape of the team and deploy a 4-4-2, 4-4-1-1 or a 4-5-1 formation in most of the games. Dyche’s formation change has seen Dwight McNeil operate on the right wing and Alex Iwobi move from centre to the left wing. Abdoulaye Doucoure has also returned to the team as Dyche prefers extra bodies in the midfield which has seen Gray miss out on the starting role.

Under Dyche, Gray has not started a single Premier League game and has just played a total of 29 minutes. McNeil has been performing well under Dyche and Iwobi has been consistent in most of the games this season.

Everton must give Demarai Gray a chance against Aston Villa

McNeil seems to be a player reborn under Dyche. He and Iwobi carry out defensive duties on the wing and share the responsibilities of taking corners. Perhaps, Gray cannot offer the same work rate on the flanks but there might be a different role that Gray can execute.

With Calvert-Lewin injured, Dyche has used Ellis Simms and Neal Maupay in the starter’s role. Maupay was decent but still doesn’t offer the desired level of threat up top and isn’t lethal enough. On the other hand, Simms has shown shades of promise but is largely inexperienced in leading the line.

Gray could be used in a central role and Dyche has previously admitted that such a chance could be given to the former Leicester City man. Ahead of the Aston Villa game, Dyche spoke about the conversation he has had with Gray.

"I think just finding that balance of his talent, the work ethic of the group and how the group tactically play. That mixture. To find those combinations. I’ve already spoken to him about it, his role and his continued development and how he sees it.He’s still only 26 and he’s been in and out at clubs, Leicester and stuff like that. Finding that platform for consistency. And he shared that back – about when he found himself in that position in the past and could he find that consistency in the role and not just his technical performance but the actual role within a team. So I have been speaking to him about that. (via Liverpool ECHO)"

Now, Gray is not a primary striker. He has previously played in a second striker’s role but not as a lone man up top. Perhaps, it is worth experimenting given the pace and agility he possesses. He could be the impact man in the team, given he has a slightly different profile compared to other wingers. He doesn’t categorically fit in Dyche’s typical winger mould but his unique skillset offer something unique to Everton.

Gray has the ability to become one of the top players in this Everton team. If cards are played right, the £1.7 million paid for him in the summer of 2021 will look like a highway robbery. He is already valued at around £17.7 million and if he can find a significant role on the Everton side, his value is bound to shoot up.

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Should Demarai Gray start against Aston Villa?