Everton get injury boosts as they face Villans in first PL game of the year

Blues boss Sean Dyche has given supporters some welcome news on the injury front as his side prepare for tomorrow's match against high-flying Aston Villa. .
Aston Villa v Everton - Carabao Cup Third Round
Aston Villa v Everton - Carabao Cup Third Round / Marc Atkins/GettyImages

In particular, Dyche revealed that Dwight McNeil has somehow avoided being seriously hurt following his injury when Everton played out a 0-0 draw at Crystal Palace last week and could return to the team very soon.

The winger was stretchered off at Selhurst Park after the incident and it certainly looked as though it would be a very serious problem, possibly meaning he would miss weeks or even months of the season.

With several other players already out and his squad stretched to the limit, losing another key player was the last thing the manager needed.

Especially, because McNeil's replacement was a player already being linked with a move away from Goodison Park.

Arnaut Danjuma was apparently considering his options in this January transfer window after failing to get much playing time under Dyche since his move on loan to Merseyside in the summer.

But the manager has dismissed such rumours and insisted that Danjuma will remain an Everton player and is very much in his thoughts.

The Dutch forward is of course very likely to start at Goodison Park on Sunday as McNeil is not ready to return yet.

The other piece of injury news concerns Abdoulaye Doucoure. He has been out for over a month now and his absence has been keenly felt in a side that was built around him to some extent, and in which he is still the leading goalscorer.

Doucoure is also probably not ready to return to the team for tomorrow's game and so the Toffees face Villa without two of their most influential players.

Even with a fully fit squad, Everton would be facing a tought test at the team curerntly lying second in the Premier League.

The Midlands club have been transformed under Unai Emery and the former Arsenal manager has lifted the team into contention not just for the Champions League but also possibly for the title itself.

Villa are a formidable side on a good run with a potent attack led by the in-form Ollie Watkins who has nine goals so far.

The England striker has nine goals so far this season and he fronts a forward line that has netted forty three times already and includes players such as Leon Bailey, Douglas Luiz, Moussa Diaby and John McGinn all of whom are potent threats.

Everton are on a poor run of form having failed to win any of their last five matches with four consecutive defeats only arrested by that dour draw at Palace in the FA Cup.

In addition, the Toffees are again struggling to score goals with only three in those last five games after having scored eight in the previous four.

Although Dyche will be pleased that Dominic Calvert-Lewin's controversial red card in that Palace match has been overturned on appeal, the former England international hasn't found the net for nearly three months.

His other alternative at centre-forward Beto has only one goal in the Premier League all season, when he fired home in the 3-0 win over Newcastle United.

On paper it's hard to see anything other than a Villa victory tomorrow, but perhaps Everton can produce another of those hard-fought and determined performances which have brought so many often unexpected points this season, including at Villa Park in the Carabao Cup.

The Blues need to stop the rot in the league and start getting points on board again, particularly after yesterday's draw between Burnley and Luton which did the Toffees no favours.