With Abdoulaye Doucoure now banned for three matches after his red card on Monday, Everton boss Sean Dyche now has to rejig his team to make up for the midfielder’s absence.
It will be a challenge for the Blues’ boss to find a way to overcome the absence of a player who has become integral to his team and tactics since Dyche succeeded Frank Lampard.
While there are several possible options for the Everton manager to replace Doucoure in the centre of the park, one player who should also now be considered for a return to the team is Nathan Patterson.
The young Scottish international full-back has suffered several injuries since he signed for the Toffees in January 2022.
His latest absence has meant Dyche hasn’t been able to pick him ever since he became the Toffees’ manager and he has selected Seamus Coleman at right-back.
Patterson has finally recovered from his latest setback and came on for Scotland in their recent win over Spain.
He is a young footballer who had certainly impressed when he got a chance to start and have a run for Everton under Lampard before he was injured again.
The former Rangers player proved to be very solid defensively, possesses pace and excellent attacking instincts and the ability to provide good quality balls in from the flanks.
He wants to get forward as much as possible and very much epitomises the modern full-back in this respect.
With Doucoure now out of the reckoning for several weeks, I think Dyche should consider giving Patterson another chance in the side, but in midfield.
Although the Blues’ have generally been defensively sound and very well-organised since Dyche took over, and in particular have started showing a degree of energetic resoluteness that is welcome to see, there has still been a lack of attacking creativity.
This is inevitable to some extent given the weakness in the squad in terms of talent and ability to create and make goalscoring opportunities.
The majority of the goals that his team has scored have come from set-pieces or the odd individual goal, like Michael Keane’s late strike against Spurs.
And, while Dyche’s work with the players is certainly paying off keeping Everton in every match and more chances are being created, there is obviously a need to find more goals, something the manager himself of course fully realises.
Bringing Patterson back on the right of midfield, as I suggest, would provide additional defensive protection in front of Coleman and importantly further pace and attacking support for the Toffees’ attack.
In doing this Dyche could also continue to use his 4-5-1 formation as well, either playing James Garner or Alex Iwobi in midfield.
Ideally, Dyche would want Dominic Calvert-Lewin to be leading that attack as he would thrive on the sort of delivery that Patterson and Dwight McNeil on the other flank, can provide.
However, that seems very unlikely and as the weeks and games go by it appears increasingly as though we won’t see Calvert-Lewin back before the season finishes.
Whoever does lead the line (and recently it has been Demarai Gray) needs to try and take full advantage of any increase in chances created.