Sean Dyche must take Everton risk and start Demarai Gray v Bournemouth after Dominic Calvert-Lewin’s injury blow
Dominic Calvert-Lewin is likely to miss the final game of the season between Everton and Bournemouth and Sean Dyche may have a decision to make on one forgotten man.
The striker was forced off injured at the end of the first half against Wolves, leaving fans and staff worried about his ability to participate in the must-win game to secure their Premier League status for next season.
According to The Telegraph (23 May), the injury-prone ace is likely to need five weeks to heal from a hamstring injury and while the club will give him every chance to be fit, there still remains the expectation that he won’t be able to play.
And speaking in his pre-match press conference on Friday afternoon [26 May], Dyche confirmed that his key man will miss the fixture against the Cherries which comes as a huge blow to their chances of claiming a crucial win.
The Toffees need to match or better the results of Leicester City and Leeds United to keep themselves in the Premier League, with a win guaranteeing their survival irrespective of occurrences elsewhere.
But with Calvert-Lewin out, Dyche may have to choose to deploy alternatives in Neal Maupay, Ellis Simms, or Demarai Gray in the center-forward role on one of the biggest weekends in Everton’s history.
Goals win games – a commodity Everton have severely struggled with throughout this campaign and that has been further compounded by the Toffees’ lack of reaction when they lost Anthony Gordon during the January transfer window.
As a result, the former Burnley boss has been heavily reliant on Alex Iwobi and Dwight McNeil as his key hopes in attack, with Gray – a forgotten man now at Goodison Park – forced to watch on from the sidelines, despite his destructive attacking abilities.
Gray has been far from Everton’s worst player this season and will feel he has the opportunity to become the club’s savior on Sunday.
The former Leicester City star has made 35 appearances this term, hitting the back of the net six times and registering one assist, making him the side’s second-top scorer for the campaign behind Dwight McNeil (seven goals) – and more than Maupay, Simms, and Calvert-Lewin combined.
The 26-year-old has been deployed in the center-forward role before, fulfilling the responsibility against Nottingham Forest to some success, scoring in the 2-2 draw in March.
Previously hailed as “inspirational” by Martin Keown – the Everton winger possesses undeniable pace and creativity which could cause chaos for Bournemouth, averaging 1.2 key passes, 1.7 shots on goal, and one successful dribble per game so far this campaign.
Everton’s Premier League destiny is in their hands, and with their best-attacking threat out of action against the Cherries on Sunday, Dyche could do no worse than turn to Gray once again to provide the spark they desperately need to claim the crucial points at Goodison Park.