Everton hit by huge injury blow to Digne

Thursday, 26 November, 2020 119comments  |  Jump to last

Lucas Digne has suffered a serious ankle injury in training and is expected to be out for at least two months after the club revealed he will undergo surgery.

The news comes ahead of a critical run of matches as the Toffees look to get back into their early-season groove following last Sunday's victory at Fulham, a match in which Digne combined superbly with James Rodriguez to create two of Everton's three goals.

As was the case for the ill-fated trip to Newcastle last month, Carlo Ancelotti will now be forced to rejig the line-up for Saturday's game against Leeds United at Goodison Park after Digne sustained ankle ligament damage at Finch Farm.

The 27-year-old will undergo reconstructive surgery on Monday and won't be back until the New Year, robbing Ancelotti of one of his most productive outlets.

Niels Nkounkou was the beneficiary at St James's Park when Digne served a one-match suspension and he could be again now that Ancelotti, seeking to tighten up his back line and compensate for Seamus Coleman's absence in the other fullback position, has opted for a three-man central defensive formation with wingbacks.  

Reader Comments (119)

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Patrick McFarlane
1 Posted 26/11/2020 at 13:39:13
This is really bad news.

Lucas Digne has suffered an ankle injury which will keep him out for 2 months, according to L’Équipe. The French report claims the 27-year-old sustained the injury in training with subsequent scans revealing the need for surgery.

Christy Ring
2 Posted 26/11/2020 at 14:31:03
Digne out for 2 months, injured in training. A massive loss, especially as an attacking loss, for his crosses. Are they that physical in training, or a freak injury?
Marc Hints
3 Posted 26/11/2020 at 14:36:11
Just heard Lucas Digne out for 2 months!
Brian Murray
4 Posted 26/11/2020 at 14:42:21
Time for Nkounkou to step up. Cometh the hour and all that! He looks the part and this may be the making of him.
Patrick McFarlane
5 Posted 26/11/2020 at 14:43:03
Yes, Christy, terrible news. Rumours appeared on French L'equipe Twitter feed, but no confirmation by the club as of yet.

Bobby Mallon
6 Posted 26/11/2020 at 14:46:38
Yeh, done his ankle in.
Bobby Mallon
7 Posted 26/11/2020 at 14:52:20
I have supposedly hurt his ankle.
Sam Hoare
8 Posted 26/11/2020 at 14:59:27
Terrible news about Digne. Terrible timing. And though Nkounkou is a talent, he's very raw and will now be potentially facing some of the best teams in the league.

Jim Bennings
9 Posted 26/11/2020 at 15:41:42
Calls for Nkounkou are a bit premature given he looked totally out of his depth against a bang average Newcastle side, but it's a case of needs most and we don't have another left-back at the club.

The same old injury crisis, year-in & year-out... you do wonder if we make our players out of glass sometimes.

Mike Oates
10 Posted 26/11/2020 at 15:42:58
Going to miss him big time. He assisted twice on Sunday with perfect crosses for Calvert-Lewin and Doucouré, and his partnership with Richarlison was really taking off. We always lose a key player just when the side starts to click.

Nkounkou is not ready for a full 2 months in the team. Delph – if fit!!! – will be used .

Ajay Gopal
11 Posted 26/11/2020 at 15:43:40
Just when we dream of a good season, this happens to our most creative player. But, we do have about 30 other players – hopefully Carlo will be able to move the pieces around and find a solution.

Get well soon, Lucas, you are too good to not be playing.

John Keating
12 Posted 26/11/2020 at 15:48:26
Terrible news but that's football.
Only a choice of two, Delph or Nkounkou, so really only one choice!

John Pierce
13 Posted 26/11/2020 at 15:49:52
This is the same dilemma for Carlo when we lost Richarlison to suspension, why didn't he use Gordon?

The obvious thing is to replace Digne with Nkounkou and use his energy going forward, he's nowhere near as good but he fits the same profile.

However, he's deffo got an aversion to picking youth. I'm feel he will go for Delph, who will screw the dynamic; he's never overlapping or delivering crosses.

It's a massive blow.

Sam Hoare
14 Posted 26/11/2020 at 15:52:16
Arguably the best left back in the league? And certainly one of our few players who'd get into most top 6 teams.

Rotten, rotten timing over the most congested period. Delph or Nkoukou. One is too slow/unfit, one is too raw.


Patrick McFarlane
15 Posted 26/11/2020 at 15:54:41
How's about promoting the kid Thierry Small, probably won't happen but it might make it interesting on the pitch and help to keep him at Goodison?

Everton youngster Thierry Small is reportedly attracting interest from the likes of Bayern Munich, Juventus and Arsenal as he continues to impress at youth level.

The 16-year-old has scored three times in seven Under-18 Premier League appearances this season, while he has also turned out for his Merseyside club's Under-23 outfit in Premier League 2.

According to the Daily Mail, Bayern and Juve have a 'concrete interest' in the teenager, while Arsenal are also keeping a close eye on his development.

The report claims that Small's performances at left-back have drawn comparisons with Bayern's Alphonso Davies, who is regarded as one of the best attacking full-backs in the game.

Everton have allegedly offered the defender a 'generous' three-year contract in the hope of convincing him to turn down interest from elsewhere to commit his future to the Toffees.

Small was named his club's Under-16 Player of the Year for the 2019-20 campaign.

Tony Everan
16 Posted 26/11/2020 at 15:55:33
Bad news, we can't replace his quality and we will suffer. I wish him a very speedy recovery and return.

Nkounkou is still a teenager; whilst he has very promising talent, he is still learning his trade. Carlo will make a judgement on him if he thinks he's ready, but I also think it's more likely Delph will cover. Whether Delph is better than a raw teenage Nkounkou remains to be seen!

I would, maybe recklessly, choose to play Nkounkou over Delph. Calvert-Lewin needs a supply and Nkounkou is more likely to fire some dangerous crosses in to him. Delph is a bit stagnant and slow, but would probably do better defensively.

Paul Hewitt
17 Posted 26/11/2020 at 15:56:24
Time for Delph to step up.
Dan Nulty
18 Posted 26/11/2020 at 15:58:53
Nkounkou did look out of his depth against Newcastle but we mustn't forget he did not have Richarlison playing in front of him. He was expected to provide all the width in a Christmas tree formation that I don't think I've ever seen work.

I do think we will see Delph there as I think Carlo will go for the safe pair of hands. I'd rather give him a go against Leeds and Burnley because Delph's record suggests he will probably get injured in one of those games and then Niels will be thrown in against 4 of the best teams in the league. Talk about baptism of fire. I believe in this lad though.

Ray Said
19 Posted 26/11/2020 at 15:59:41
Patrick (15) makes a really interesting point and a promotion to the bench may help secure Small's name on a contract.
Minik Hansen
20 Posted 26/11/2020 at 16:03:50
Enter: Nkounkou.
Minik Hansen
21 Posted 26/11/2020 at 16:13:59
Jim (9) and Dan (18),

Against Newcastle (on his birthday was it?) Nkounkou was pushed further up, and was clearly instructed to use his speed and try to fly past defenders. This was his first Premier League assignment and he must've felt some form of anxiety.

It's defo gonna be a different story on his natural position; some Premier League game time under his belt will have helped.

Mike Gaynes
22 Posted 26/11/2020 at 16:16:05
Okay, the club really needs to ban training. Immediately.

Also, I know I promised I wasn't going to moan about the Robinson deal anymore, but... !!!

In all seriousness, I really believe that between them Delph and Nkounkou can step up and cover the position adequately in a back four, although they may not have to -- Carlo might well just commit to the back 3 alignment we saw against Fulham and go five in the midfield full time. Niels can definitely handle the attacking responsibilities on the flank, if not the defensive load of a back 4 left-back.

Patrick #15, thanks for that information -- I hadn't even heard of the kid.

Stephen Brown
23 Posted 26/11/2020 at 16:25:47
Has to be 3 at the back now? Nkounkou and Iwobi as wing-backs.

Danny O’Neill
24 Posted 26/11/2020 at 16:29:24
Yep. 3 at the back. Godfrey in a more natural position.
Bobby Mallon
25 Posted 26/11/2020 at 16:31:04
Mike Oats @10,

No, no, no to Delph. For fuck's sake, we are always banging on about playing the youngsters – and Delph is not a wing-back!

Will Mabon
26 Posted 26/11/2020 at 16:31:31
Well, at least no-one can claim we're having an easy ride of it. Terrible luck in keeping with our map of injuries so far this season. The decision to operate if taken may be based on expediency of recovery as much as a necessity to recovery. Hope it's not a bad ankle-over, which are a major pain.

As said above by Mr Kenrick, just as we regained some form. Some blagging it required against Leeds then... maybe that back three.

Bobby Mallon
27 Posted 26/11/2020 at 16:37:14
I have seen the young left-back play. What a talent! He reminds of Rooney in his readiness.
Will Mabon
28 Posted 26/11/2020 at 16:45:26
Bobby, thanks - good to know.
Mike Gaynes
29 Posted 26/11/2020 at 16:47:56
And I hate to inject an additional sour note, but I've never heard of an ankle injury requiring surgery that healed up in two months.

If Digne does have to go under the knife, I wouldn't expect to see him much before spring.

Happy Effing Thanksgiving.

Sam Hoare
30 Posted 26/11/2020 at 16:50:32
JP @13, it's a good point about Carlo not trusting youth that much with us. I guess we can expect to see a combination of Delph, Kenny, Coleman and maybe even Sigurdsson playing there!

In all seriousness, if we continue with wingbacks, then Nkounkou or even Gordon could be perfect. You need energy and dynamism in that role. And defensively you should, in theory, have some cover behind you.

Mike Doyle
31 Posted 26/11/2020 at 17:02:56
Even if Delph gets the nod, the chances of him lasting a series of games seems fairly unlikely.

Expect we'll see plenty of “3 at the back plus 2 x wingbacks” during the coming months.

Rennie Smith
32 Posted 26/11/2020 at 17:09:25
It's a massive blow. He's having surgery on Monday, according to the official site.

I don't think Gordon will get a look-in as left-wingback, he hasn't even been in the matchday squad for a while now.

Also, who says we're sticking with 3 at the back? He's only played it once, I'd expect Carlo to drop back into a 4 for some games so it will probably be Delph as Nkounkou is a bit raw.

Christy Ring
33 Posted 26/11/2020 at 17:19:51
A massive loss, Nkounkou is our only option, as Delph is so injury-prone.

When is the last time Delph played 2/3 games in a row? Is there any free agents available?

Michael Lynch
34 Posted 26/11/2020 at 17:20:45
Particularly galling that it happened in training. Probably a mistimed tackle by Pickford.
Eddie Dunn
35 Posted 26/11/2020 at 17:20:52
I would throw Nkounkou straight in, preferably in a back five which might help cut out the width that Leeds like to play with.

I certainly would not have Delph near the defence. For me, the only thing Delph can do is sit protecting the defence. His lack of pace would leave us exposed to their overlap and unable to springboard our own overlaps.

So it is one younger Frenchman in for another, for me, although Carlo is probably getting Richarlison geared-up to play wingback like Iwobi last week!

Alan McGuffog
36 Posted 26/11/2020 at 17:21:49
Mike... I've never heard of an Everton player, scheduled to be out for two months, being back in under three.
Fran Mitchell
37 Posted 26/11/2020 at 17:28:17
Gutting, absolutely gutting. Arguably the best player in his position in the league, definitely amongst the top 3. Pure class and was looking forward to the James - Richarlison - Digne axis destroying teams.

Nkounkou has to play and hopefully can step up.

Robert Tressell
38 Posted 26/11/2020 at 17:34:32
Bollocks. We're not a lucky club, are we?
Tony Hill
39 Posted 26/11/2020 at 17:35:07
I have every faith in Nkounkou. I take little account of his performance against Newcastle, where he looked to be playing under constraining orders. Let him play his natural game – he and Richarlison could be devastating.

Neither Baines nor Digne had/have strong defensive qualities. If we have to play Delph initially, so be it.

Best of luck to Lucas.

John Pierce
40 Posted 26/11/2020 at 17:36:49
Even if Delph was in his prime, he ponders on the ball, loves a reassuring touch, and destroys the tempo of our play. He only worked at Man City because they played 40 yards further up the field than we do, so he became a free man, allowing him to essentially be an auxiliary midfielder. He rarely if ever did any real left-back work.

This position is comfortably the most demanding in the league. Up and down 50/70-yd doggies and we are expecting a good delivery on the end of it. The younger hungrier player must be selected there. He will make mistakes; however, it should also be the making of him.

Sam, I believe you maybe right that we see Coleman there before Nkounkou. Gulp. Did Seamus not play left-back away at Benfica all those years ago???

Ajay Gopal
41 Posted 26/11/2020 at 17:36:50
Carlo, surely, will go back 3, with probably Nkounkou on the left and Iwobi on the right.

Holgate Keane Godfrey
Iwobi Doucouré Allan Nkounkou
Calvert-Lewin Richarlison

Danny O’Neill
42 Posted 26/11/2020 at 17:42:10
It's part and parcel and we need to learn to deal with it. Appreciating our squad beyond the first choice 11 / main 14 is thin.

The importance of not just having depth, but having a system that is practised and trained throughout the levels within the club so that, when players are asked to step up, they understand what is required rather than looking like a proverbial rabbit in the headlights.

Patrick McFarlane
43 Posted 26/11/2020 at 17:45:22
Michael #34,

I take it your comment was strictly tongue-in-cheek? Isn't it possible that no other player was involved and poor old Digne accidentally injured himself?

Jay Harris
44 Posted 26/11/2020 at 17:53:08
It has to be Nkounkou. As previously mentioned, Delph is far too slow and the way Leeds bomb forward will leave him in no-man's land...

Any news on Seamus?

We need the pace of Iwobi, the cunning of James and the determination of Richarlison to get 3 points off this lot – and we need Holgate in place of a totally shot Yerry Mina.

James Fletcher
45 Posted 26/11/2020 at 17:55:44
If we continue to play 3 centre-backs, I think Nkounkou can fill in quite happily; he seemed to love going forward when I saw him earlier in the season.
Annika Herbert
46 Posted 26/11/2020 at 18:08:27
Awful news, Digne has been outstanding so far this season. No idea which way the Boss will go but it would be Nkounkou for me.

Best wishes to Digne and here's hoping for a swift recovery.

Dan Nulty
47 Posted 26/11/2020 at 18:08:56
Well done on mentioning Small. He looks a really good talent. I've watched highlights of the Under-18s on the official site this season and he looks a great prospect.

Could do worse than blooding him off the bench, letting him know there is a path to the first team before Dortmund inevitably come calling and we lose him on the cheap.

Graham Williams
49 Posted 26/11/2020 at 18:10:40
John @ 40 - or from memory was it Tony Hibbert as left-back at Benfica??
And we also had Cuco Martina there not so long ago, who didn't do so bad, all things considered.
Sukhdev Sohal
50 Posted 26/11/2020 at 18:18:33
Just as we were about to approach arguably the most important period of the season (in terms of fixture congestion and points available), our best player gets a serious injury.

Nkounkou will have to step it up. He didn't show much against Newcastle but then again nobody did. Perhaps in a 3 at the back (when attacking), he'll have more license to get forward.

Digne's assists are very valuable to us so let's hope Nkounkou can bag a couple and we don't worry about this situation after the Leeds game.

Sukhdev Sohal
51 Posted 26/11/2020 at 18:34:52
Playing Delph there is a recipe for disaster. He didn't get found out at Man City because they had 70% of the ball most matches and, when they lost it, they tactically fouled the opposition.

Up against players with the pace of Harrison and Rashford in the next few weeks, Nkoukou at least has a chance of competing with them.

Gary Willock
52 Posted 26/11/2020 at 18:43:15
Like the team from Ajax @41.

Mina and Branthwaite pushing Holgate and Godfrey for a place in that back 3. Young Nkounkou and Iwobi allowed to go flying. Gbamin or Delph on for James after we go 2-0 up and need to sit and soak.

Digne will be a huge miss, but injuries are inevitable and it could be worse. Swift recovery, fella.

Jerome Shields
53 Posted 26/11/2020 at 19:02:49
Everton badly needed other players to follow Digne's crossing example. Now he is out, Nkounkou needs to be selected in his place.

Wishing Digne a speedy recovery.

Terry Farrell
54 Posted 26/11/2020 at 19:14:22
Ajay, that's a good side that I agree with. Leeds are quick and work hard for 90 minutes and we have to match them. Shame about Lucas, he is one of my favs and on fire at the moment. Typical!

Darren Hind
55 Posted 26/11/2020 at 19:24:05
Every team suffers injuries...

Shit happens.

Paul Birmingham
56 Posted 26/11/2020 at 19:29:07
Sod's law, and another test of Everton's squad strength in depth.

For me it's Nkounkou, a 1:1 replacement, as I don't see Delph as ever being physically or mentally fit for Everton since he arrived; he was damaged goods as a player. His so-called example to the squad in view of leadership, mentality and drive, after his exploits and prowess at Man City, was a farce.

Still, this should add some bite and resolve to the squad but is our primary source of ammo for the forward line.

Hopefully Iwobi can prove his first half at Fulham wasn't a flash in the pan... and can keep them crosses coming in.

I'm expecting a very tough night vs Leeds, a must-win to stay in the top 6, and I hope that there are no more injuries.

Patrick McFarlane
58 Posted 26/11/2020 at 19:44:27
Paul #57
I think you may have been correct in the first place, over-priced, past its best and there are others more suited to the modern world. :)

Simon Dalzell
59 Posted 26/11/2020 at 20:05:35
Not good. Just found out here. Digne has been outstanding. We have no luck.

I really hope Nkounkou gets the nod, he has flair and huge potential.

Jack Convery
60 Posted 26/11/2020 at 20:10:38
Wishing Lucas Digne a speedy recovery and that the surgery goes well on Monday.

As for his replacement, over to you, Carlo. Is Baines available on a free?? Short-term contract could suit all parties...

I don't want Delph there as he offers nothing going forward. Nkounkou has been great in the League Cup but the Premier League is totally different. If it is him, it will have to be 3 at the back again for me and he can play left-wingback, with Richy working like a Trojan in the space ahead of him.

It will be very interesting to see what the Don does to solve this problem come Saturday. If it's 4-3-3, then Tom Davies in front of Nkounkou could work. Tom came on against Fulham in that position and helped shut up shop.

My best guess would be:

Pickford, Iwobi, Holgate, Keane, Godfrey, Nkounkou, Allan, Doucouré, James, Calvert-Lewin, Richarlison.

Whatever the line-up, they will have their hands full with the energy and drive of this Leeds team.

David Pearl
61 Posted 26/11/2020 at 20:16:02
I think a lot will depend on the fitness of Coleman. If he comes back and we revert to a back 4 then Delph could come in. If we stick to the formation played against Fulham though, then Nkounkou does have a better chance of minutes given he will have some cover behind him.

Richarlison is back and hopefully a fitter James will mean we can play on the front foot. Bad news... but we can cope – with the right attitude.

Tony Everan
62 Posted 26/11/2020 at 20:30:45
Ajay @41 has the team I would go for. We need to maintain a threat and a supply to Dominic, this team can deliver that.

Every player will have to step it up and be on it for 90 mins and then we can maybe compensate for the loss of Digne.

Also, Carlo has to have his substitute strategy well thought out. Keeping a flagging James Rodriguez on too long in the second half just invites pressure. He needs to be alert to James’s effectiveness and be proactive in substituting him for maybe Gbamin or the tenacity of Davies.

Robert Tressell
63 Posted 26/11/2020 at 20:37:00
I could see Iwobi being used ahead of Nkounkou at left-wingback. A little like Ashley Young now plays for Inter. Kenny or Coleman then plays right-wingback, depending on fitness. It should work as long as we have our attacking trio fit.
Steve Guy
64 Posted 26/11/2020 at 20:41:45
Delph??!! Never a full back while he's got a hole in his derrière! We need round pegs in round holes and Nkounkou deserves his chance to step up.
Bobby Mallon
65 Posted 26/11/2020 at 20:43:30
Is Gbamin fit to play?
Antony Kelly
66 Posted 26/11/2020 at 21:12:51
Thierry Small should be playing for U23s but Unsworth only wants to play older players and plays those players out of position so he can get results.

Small to jump from U18s to first team might be too big but at least get him in the U23s to push him on...

Barry Jones
67 Posted 26/11/2020 at 21:15:08
Looks like we may have to get a right and a left back in the January window. For the right side, I would throw almost the entire budget at Lamptey.
Fran Mitchell
68 Posted 26/11/2020 at 21:18:32
Antony, but doesn't Nkounkou play for the U23s? Doesn't Nkounkou need gametime as Digne (until now) is a guaranteed starter?
Jack Convery
69 Posted 26/11/2020 at 21:19:04
Barry Jones, agreed on Lamptey 100%.

Watching Alli playing for Spurs tonight – very good. Possibly seek a loan and see how we go with him.

Barry Jones
70 Posted 26/11/2020 at 21:32:15
Jack, I thought about Dele Alli also. He's just lost confidence under Mourinho, but he's the type of player in the middle of the park that we need.
Antony Kelly
71 Posted 26/11/2020 at 21:49:12
#68 - No Nkounkou doesn’t play for the U23s, I think he’s played one game all season..
Tom Bowers
72 Posted 26/11/2020 at 22:06:09
Looks like the season turning ugly yet again. Nkounkou is promising but may not be ready to replace the experience of Digne just yet. Anyway, time will tell.

We were all looking forward to Gbamin getting fit again, then this happens.

Digne's crosses are an asset – much like those of Bainesy for so long.

Some tough games coming up... but aren't they all these days?

Hugh Jenkins
73 Posted 26/11/2020 at 22:14:35
Jack (69), Barry, (70) - according to the BBC football gossip column this morning we are looking at possible loan deals for Alli and Winks in January.
Paul Whittaker
74 Posted 26/11/2020 at 22:25:27
I have a feeling that Baines will be offered a short-term deal. He looks the sort of lad who is naturally fit and within a few weeks would pick up where he left off. Makes sense to me.
Dan Nulty
75 Posted 26/11/2020 at 22:34:01
Lamptey will be stupid money. I think he could just be another Wan Bissaka though. Hopefully not for England's sake.

Where would you start Alli? Think it is all rubbish anyway. I think Alli was Jose's next Joe Cole where he batters him down and is seen to rebuild him and take all the credit.

Levi isn't big on loan deals if he can get a fee elsewhere.

Winks has been playing too so I can't see that happening. Just websites and papers using clickbait.

Bill Gienapp
76 Posted 26/11/2020 at 22:43:05
Well this was certainly wonderful news to wake up to on Thanksgiving here in the States.

Christy (33) - Yeah, Cuco Martina.

Colin Glassar
77 Posted 26/11/2020 at 22:53:11
Please sod off 2020!
Terry Farrell
78 Posted 26/11/2020 at 23:08:09
winks is injury prone slow and cant get a regular game avoid avoid avoid
John Raftery
79 Posted 26/11/2020 at 23:11:11
I'm glad we have 16 points in the bag. Even if Delph is selected as first-choice replacement, we can be certain he will have a calf strain within one or two games. Sooner or later, Nkounkou will have to step up. It might as well be sooner.
Bill Gall
80 Posted 26/11/2020 at 23:54:32
Delph will be too slow to cope with the speed of the Leeds counter-attack, Nkounkou was bought as Digne's back-up so I suspect he may play. He may not have been very good against Newcastle but he seemed to play mostly as a left-winger with Delph covering him from behind.

You can't keep playing players in a position they are not used to playing, why not play a player whose history is playing at left-back and also in internationals? We have a squad so what's the use of having a back-up left-back in it if you are not going to play him?

Kieran Kinsella
81 Posted 27/11/2020 at 02:23:20
Can we not get Baines to do a Scholes? He's hanging around setting out cones for Unsie. Time to make him work for his money.
Nicolas Piñon
82 Posted 27/11/2020 at 03:27:23
We will miss him a lot, because going forward he is brilliant, but as a defender he is overconfident too often and he isn't so reliable. Delph in the Number 3 position will last 75 minutes as most, so Nkounkou will at least play in the following games.

I would be more worried loosing a forward than a defender whose biggest asset is not defending precisely. Anyway, tough one for him, get well soon, bro.

Nkounkou plays with a winner's mentality and I believe he has a winger's talent and change of rhythm. Time will tell what happens.

Jay Wood

83 Posted 27/11/2020 at 04:05:39
Buenas noches Nicolás. I was thinking of you since the tragic news broke yesterday and wondered how you were.

There has been such an outpouring of grief and love for Dieguito around the globe that it must fill you with pride at how he was - IS - perceived.

The most moving tribute I have seen to him was by his beloved Boca Juniors.

The Bombanero stadium in total darkness, save for Maradona's lit private box.

His flame really will burn eternal.

Abrazos de Brasil.

Laurie Hartley
84 Posted 27/11/2020 at 04:49:25
I really hope Carlo doesn't start Delph at left-back. Watching him pass the ball back to the centre-halves makes me feel quite depressed.

We will need runners against Bielsa's mob and we won't get away with playing both Keane and Mina against them.

Gordon, Keane, Holgate
Iwobi, Doucouré, Allan, Nkounkou
Rodriguez, Richarlison

I am living in the hope that Iwobi plays as well as he did against Fulham – we need to keep Leeds occupied.

I think this will be a real ding-dong battle.

Jim Harrison
85 Posted 27/11/2020 at 05:51:24
It's just going to be one of those seasons, isn't it.
Bob Parrington
86 Posted 27/11/2020 at 07:28:10
Colin @77, I'm with you in that, and it's a long time since I heard the expression, which was used regularly in my family and our neighbourhood. It is so apt to tell 2020 to sod off!
Nicolas Piñon
87 Posted 27/11/2020 at 07:31:13
Hello Jay! Thanks for the message, mate!

I'm still shocked at what happened to Diego, have a mix of feelings about it but I am quite well in general terms. Lately, he was soooo bad and suffering in life but still I never expected him to go so “soon” – as for any sports legend...

Mostly, for me he represents what Messi hasn't done yet (winning the World Cup) so his figure has that extra aura to be seen as if a kind of God is gone...

Thanks again for the message Jay! Abrazo grande locura!

Bob Parrington
88 Posted 27/11/2020 at 07:36:05
Against Leeds, we are really having to be alert because Bielsa has them moving off the ball brilliantly. We really needed Digne for this one but, guess what? We don't have him and so we need to make change(s).

In this case, I would include Nkounkou, Gordon and Godfrey because of their agility, speed and youthful vigour. Godfrey made as a sub after the standard boring coaches' textbook guideline time of 60 minutes.

Derek Knox
89 Posted 27/11/2020 at 07:50:53
Yes, it will be an injury that we could well have done without but, as many have said, injuries do happen, they are part of the game, but being able or unable to cope, shows how poor our expensively assembled squad is.

I think the best option would be 3 at the back as against Fulham, well the first half at Fulham, this would allow Nkounkou to get forward and not being found out defensively where he is still a bit raw.

Hopefully the rest of the team picks itself. I do like Ajay's @ 41, and that is what I would hope to see line-up tomorrow at Goodison.

Leeds are a good side, and have been a bit unlucky in games thus far, so let's hope their fortunes don't turn around tomorrow. Number One rule: don't give the opposition space with the ball.

Laurie Hartley
90 Posted 27/11/2020 at 08:08:05
Ajay #41 – apologies, I plagiarised your starting 11!
Eddie Dunn
91 Posted 27/11/2020 at 08:10:24
Jack and Barry, can you see Mourinho or Levy signing off on a move for Alli to come to us?
Derek Knox
92 Posted 27/11/2020 at 08:35:16
Laurie @ 84, "I think this will be a real ding-dong battle"....

Why? Is Leslie Phillips going to be in attendance? :-)

Ajay Gopal
93 Posted 27/11/2020 at 08:36:00
Laurie (90), all is forgiven :-)

I guess James will be the our only dead ball taker in that XI. So, expect to see Sigurdsson come on after James starts to tire around the 70th minute. I also expect to see on the bench: Olsen (of course), Mina, Kenny, Davies, Tosun, and hopefully, Gordon.

Mark Murphy
94 Posted 27/11/2020 at 09:12:59
Shocking, Derek... shocking!
Mark Murphy
95 Posted 27/11/2020 at 09:21:43
Laurie, I assume that by Gordon, you mean Godfrey? In which case I agree - I'd be quite excited by that line-up:

Godfrey Keane Holgate
Iwobi Doucouré Allan Nkounkou
Calvert-Lewin Richarlison.

Robert Tressell
96 Posted 27/11/2020 at 09:36:37
Mark & Laurie, I like the look of that line-up too. But expect we'll have Kenny at right-wingback if Coleman isn't fit – and Iwobi at left-wingback.

As for Lamptey – cracking player. But doubt there's any budget in January. We will, however, buy a quality new right-back in the summer.

Pat Kelly
97 Posted 27/11/2020 at 10:26:13
Delph will fill in. For half a game before by he resumes working from home.
Sam Hoare
98 Posted 27/11/2020 at 10:29:52
Ajay@41 and others; I think that is definitely the team many will want to see. And I hope he might try it against Leeds. I suspect not. Ancelotti has been quite conservative in some ways and more trusting of experience than youth.

I would happily play that team at home vs Leeds. But I'd be more worried against the likes of Chelsea, City, Leicester etc.

Can we trust Iwobi and Nkoukou to be defensively solid? I suppose with wingbacks then at least there should, in theory, be cover. But don't be surprised to see the likes of Coleman, Kenny, Delph and maybe even Doucouré at wingback.

Also, was Nkoukou that bad against Newcastle? I don't remember him making any mistakes per se. He certainly wasn't great but the whole team had an off day that day, as I recall, including the manager!

Mike Keating
99 Posted 27/11/2020 at 11:24:06
Patrick @ 15,

I'd just read that article about Small (who I'd never heard of) and then discovered that Digne had been injured and will be out for weeks. Who knows – this might be one of those fateful moments in a player's progress?

It seemed to work for Branthwaite until he got struck down by the Everton injury voodoo.

John Cook
100 Posted 27/11/2020 at 11:42:11
Why is it that it only appears to be Evertonians who have doubts about our young talent?

A quarter of the last England team seemed to be under 21. You have English kids playing in the league, many doing terrific.

Chelsea, Man Utd, Liverpool all have very young players who are praised to the rafters by their supporters and management when all our young prospects for all the time I can remember, and I have been going to Goodison since 1962, have had nothing but stick.

Jimmy Husband to go back, Kein Radcliffe early in his career, Danny Cadermartari, Joe Royle (just for taking over from Alex Young when only 16), Billy Wright, Marc Higgins. Presently: Davies, Lookman (when he was here), now Nkounkou, who is not experienced enough. Lots more I can mention and have forgotten.

Get a grip lads.

Daniel A Johnson
101 Posted 27/11/2020 at 12:04:15
Rumours are it was our very own Fabian Delph that caused the injury, catching him late on the ankle.

If this is true then Delph is the gift that just keeps on giving.

Laurie Hartley
102 Posted 27/11/2020 at 12:04:44
Derek #92 – who is Leslie Phillips :) ???

Mark #85 – yes I did mean Godfrey. I have noticed I do that a lot lately.🤔😂

Brian Harrison
103 Posted 27/11/2020 at 12:13:13
Completely off topic, I was reading last night that Manchester United's computers have been hacked and the perpetrators are demanding huge amounts to restore the computers.

They still have control of the computers today, so far they have not released any sensitive information. But they are threatening that failure to pay the ransom and they will release personal information about sensitive issues regarding players.

I am sure if it can happen to Man Utd then it can happen to any club, so I expect these hackers to make further inroads to other Premier League computers.

Derek Knox
104 Posted 27/11/2020 at 12:17:43
Ah Laurie, assumed you were around a similar age, Leslie Phillips is (nearly said was then) an English Actor who was mostly in The Carry On series, Doctor in the House and The Navy Lark.

He was more comedic than serious, but always played the part of a 'ladies' man' he was always dressed to kill, and although he wasn't particularly handsome, he held a charm for the women. His classic saying was "Ding-Dong!"

Sam Hoare
105 Posted 27/11/2020 at 12:18:34
Would love to see Thierry Small get a run out!! But can't see it happening as he's not even played for the U23s yet I don't think.

Here is some footage on him for anyone interested: Link

Tomorrow it will be Delph or Nkoukou, I hope the latter but suspect the former. He might even try Iwobi there with Kenny playing at RWB.

Eddie Dunn
106 Posted 27/11/2020 at 12:37:17
Daniel @101, I have it on good intel that he slipped after using an incorrectly installed bidet. The manufacturer is Delph!
Kevin Prytherch
107 Posted 27/11/2020 at 12:38:39
Please not Delph. I’d rather play Tosun at left back.
Derek Knox
108 Posted 27/11/2020 at 13:14:56
Thanks Sam @105, for the link, he looks seriously good and no YouTube music playing either. Some of those training dummies reminded me of some of our players recently, only the dummies seemed quicker.

Thierry Small certainly looks like one for now, never mind the future, but I suppose they will be cautious as to his progression. Also, they want to make sure that he stays with us and is not tempted away by money-waving Top 6 Clubs.

Patrick McFarlane
109 Posted 27/11/2020 at 13:18:10
Derek #108,

I agree the lad looks seriously impressive for a 16-year-old. He might not be ready for the Premier League right now but, all things being equal, he will be. It would be a travesty if we allowed him to leave without a fight. Remember Baines had to leave Everton before becoming a Goodison hero.

Derek Taylor
110 Posted 27/11/2020 at 13:37:54
One-trick pony? You learn nothing from these well staged YouTube 'tasters' and Small is at the wrong club if he expects an early start to a Premier League career. Ancelotti only trusts big transfer players and, knowing that, the kid is unlikely to stick around. Who can blame him?
Derek Knox
111 Posted 27/11/2020 at 13:59:33
Derek T, hopefully the lad doesn't read your words of discouragement on TW, or we won't be seeing him again. :-)
Darren Hind
112 Posted 27/11/2020 at 14:38:13
Leighton Baines has been a Rolls Royce of a player. He has simply oozed class on and off the pitch since the day and hour he got here... But If I'm a kid with a growing reputation and a hunger for first team football, and I find my manager would sooner drag some fella twice my age out of retirement than give me my chance, I'm destroyed.

The French boy is 20 now. He has had a brief taste of first-team football. Carlo's inability to lure Robinson back with his amazing pulling power means he is the only other left-back in the squad. He plays... He surely to fuck plays.

Mike Gaynes
113 Posted 27/11/2020 at 15:15:11
"Carlo's inability to lure Robinson back with his amazing pulling power "

"... manager would sooner drag some fella twice my age out of retirement..."

Darren, WTF?

When did Carlo try to lure back Robinson? When did he try to talk Baines out of retirement?

Very strange post.

Jay Harris
114 Posted 27/11/2020 at 15:31:45
I got the impression, listening to Carlo's press brief, that he is considering switching Iwobi to left-wingback and bringing Kenny in on the right.

I was also looking at the squad and, with Godfrey, Branthwaite and Holgate waiting in the wings, we are looking strong at centre-back.

Midfield unfortunately does not look as well served with Gbamin yet to recover fully from injury and with an uncertain ability to come to terms with the Premier League. Davies, Sigurdsson, Bernard and Delph all with just not quite enough for the Premier League for different reasons.

With Tosun the only viable sub for Calvert-Lewin, we are also limited up front.

My preferred team for tomorrow would be:

Kenny Keane Holgate Nkounkou
Allan Doucouré Iwobi
James Calvert-Lewin Richarlison

But I have a feeling Carlo will go 3 at the back to include Godfrey at Nkounkou's expense.

Leeds break a lot down their left with pace so It will be important for Kenny and Allan to be aware of that. Bamford for me wastes a lot of chances but also scores a lot which is a testimony to how many chances Leeds create.

That of course leaves them open and I fully expect Calvert-Lewin and Richarlison to exploit them at the back.

They have conceded more than us this season so expect a goalfest, ie, a 0-0 draw.

Robert Tressell
115 Posted 27/11/2020 at 15:49:57
Sam, just seen your comments here after mentioning Thierry Small on another thread. He looks absolutely outstanding. A Saka, Sancho, Hudson-Odoi level player. 16 is a bit young but presumably someone that good will need to largely bypass the U23s and start to get first team appearances straight from the U18s. Maybe tail end of next season or in cup games.

On a vaguely related note, the fact that Gordon and Nkounkou are not getting game time is my one general gripe with Ancelotti. If we had, say, Pochettino then these guys would be playing. Obviously it's a trade off because we can hardly complain at having Rodriguez in the side - but still a bit of a tension between what we (I think) want as fans and direction of club.

Steve Brown
116 Posted 27/11/2020 at 16:06:39
Bad news, but let's avoid to much whinging and moaning. That is something the other lot specialise in.
Jeff Armstrong
117 Posted 27/11/2020 at 17:18:36
Isn't Godfrey comfortable on the left? Ancellotti will probably surprise us all and ignore Nkounkou, move Godfrey to left-wingback and play Holgate Keane and Mina in a back 5 with Iwobi on the right.

Even a 16-year-old Maradona would be ignored by Carlo! So Small has about the same chance as his name suggests.

Tony Everan
118 Posted 27/11/2020 at 19:07:59
Iwobi playing on the left is a duck out of water. He doesn't seem to collect the ball well, make runs, find space or connect with teammates. When I've seen him on the left he seems to just get in the way.

He plays much more naturally on the right either dribbling inside or finding half a yard beyond the full-back to whip in a dangerous cross. On the left, he stalls and tracks back to his right foot and plays a negative pass. I sincerely hope we don't see him on the left side on Saturday.

I would much rather see Nkounkou there as a natural left-sided player. He is young and with loads of talent and to some extent it's a gamble. But playing it safe with the slow and ponderous Delph is a negative, defensive choice.

It may not work out playing Nkounkou, but I would be a whole lot more excited to watch the game. I would be willing the lad to do well from the off. I mean what a bonus it would be for the club for the next two months if he proved up to it.

Pekka Harvilahti
119 Posted 27/11/2020 at 22:51:21
One of the greatest blues songs ever, says "I maybe blue but I don't mind", how 'bout that?
Derek Thomas
120 Posted 28/11/2020 at 00:13:56
Delph struggles to do 7 games a season, so he'll never do 7 in a month... may as well start Nkounkou and let him learn on the job, with an eye on the reachable target of The League Cup Trophy.

Because when lame donkey Delph pulls up, and he will, he'll be in there anyway.

Barry Jones
121 Posted 28/11/2020 at 00:44:21
It has to be Nkounkou. Yes, he is the diamond in the rough, but the only way he becomes more polished is by playing.

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