After coming off at half-time in last weekend’s 3-0 loss to Manchester City, Everton striker Dominic Calvert-Lewin is now a major doubt for the Wolves game.
Seeing the 26-year-old walking off the pitch with the home side already two goals down, was a depressingly familiar sight for Blues supporters.
In the last few weeks Everton have been transformed by having the injury-prone centre-forward back after another series of prolonged and seemingly endless absences this season.
His pace, movement and ability to cleverly run the channels, hold the ball up and offer a genuine goal-scoring threat, was badly missed while he was recouperating from injury having played just over an hour for new manager Sean Dyche.
The culmination of that change was the 5-1 win at Brighton when although he didn’t score, having Calvert-Lewin leading the line gave the Toffees a potent and highly effective focal point for their attacks.
At the moment we still don’t know for certain if Calvert-Lewin will be fit for Saturday’s game.
And so, with just a few days to go, obviously the question is who should replace him if, as seems increasingly likely, the fragile forward won’t be available.
This would be a disaster for Dyche and Everton and I fear could prove a decisive turning point in the battle for survival.
Both Dyche and his predecessor Frank Lampard have tried several alternatives since the start of the season as Calvert-Lewin has already missed most of the campaign with little tangible success.
The current Blues boss has used Neal Maupay, Ellis Simms and more often Demarai Gray as his lone centre-forward and presumably he will turn to one of them again, if he sticks to his lone striker system.
Let’s first of all rule out Maupay who has contributed nothing for months now.
None of these players can replace Calvert-Lewin, but of all these options I would give Simms another chance, as long as he has enough support from midfield.
Simms offers the nearest thing to his former England international team-mate as he has good strength and ability in the air plus he can finish as he proved emphatically at Chelsea.
He isn’t a back-to-goal striker however and will need plenty of support as he isn’t going to be able to hold the ball up the way Calvert-Lewin can. That means particularly Abdoulaye Doucoure being able to get forward as much as possible.
Gray would be the other alternative. The former Leicester starlet has good pace and at his best is an effective forward.
But, he is just too inconsistent and you never know which version of Gray will turn up that day.
These are all marginal decisions though because in truth no one can provide that genuine centre-forward play Calvert-Lewin offers.
If he is absent again when Everton run out at Molinuex, then it will be a real uphill battle for the Toffees to win a game they really have to in order to secure their top flight status.