Everton host West Ham United on Sunday after a long rest following the postponements of last weekend’s fixtures and will be desperate to earn the first win of their Premier League campaign.
One man who could come in and be a catalyst in the Toffees getting all three points is Dominic Calvert-Lewin, who Frank Lampard mildly hinted could be available for the visit of David Moyes’ side to Goodison Park.
He noted that the England international was “close” to making his first appearance of the season, stating: “We’ll see come Sunday whether he’s ready to start a game or not. We have to be careful with him obviously because he had a difficult injury so, we’ll see for the weekend.”
Although not outwardly saying it, the slight chance that Calvert-Lewin could be available must be taken with both hands by the 44-year-old – especially given the impending international break, which would give the 25-year-old ample time to recover after hopefully firing the Toffees to an important win.
Davide Ancelotti was incredibly vocal in his praise for the striker during his time at the club under his father Carlo, labelling him a “special player” with “special ability”.
It was during this spell that the Everton marksman enjoyed his best football, managing to stay fit consistently to score 16 goals in 33 league games under the Italian in 2020/21.
Should Lampard risk throwing Calvert-Lewin straight back in the starting XI?
Injuries have hampered him from maintaining that form since, although last season he still managed five goals in 17 matches during a disrupted campaign.
He also showed that he could come up with big moments at Goodison Park, flicking a wonderful ball through for Alex Iwobi to grab a 99th-minute winner against Newcastle United in March, and scoring that diving header against Crystal Palace in May which sparked a pitch invasion and scenes of unbridled jubilation as the Toffees’ top-flight survival was secured.
When fit, there seems little doubt that the £20k-per-week marksman is his team’s most important player, having been their leading top-flight scorer in two of the last three full seasons, so it is no surprise that the team has struggled so much in his absence.
His inclusion would also suit Lampard’s side better than if summer signing Neal Maupay were to play, as Calvert-Lewin ranks in the top 4% for aerial duels won among strikers in Europe’s top five leagues over the past 12 months.
Everton might finally get some joy out of Dwight McNeil’s deliveries, as the ex-Burnley winger has struggled without a focal point to pick out in the early stages of his Goodison Park career – last season he ranked third in the entire Premier League for successful crosses (199).
If fit, it is a no-brainer for Lampard to throw his main man back into the starting XI. It is certainly a risk given Calvert-Lewin’s injury troubles in recent months, but one worth taking to try and secure that vital first league victory of 2022/23.