Here are the main talking points from the Blues boss’ pre-match press conference, with the mai
Calvert-Lewin injury update
Dominic Calvert-Lewin has missed the past six games with a quad injury.
And the striker - who bagged three times in as many matches before his problem - is set to be on the treatment table for a further five weeks as he recovers.
Benitez said: “To be fair, we have some issues but are bringing players back little by little.
“Dominic, as you know, has an injury we have to sort out.
“How long will he be out, we need to see. It depends on how he reacts to the treatment but we will not see him for 4-5 weeks.
“I don’t like to put a time frame on, it’s important to see how the player is improving and how he feels.
“It’s difficult to have said that and to manage. We’re trying to be sure we can improve every department.
“We brought Cristian Fernandez in as fitness rehabilitation coach to be sure we can help the department with these kind of things.”
Benitez has to find a replacement for Abdoulaye Doucoure against Watford.
The midfielder has arguably been player of the season but is out for more than a month with a foot problem.
Benitez offered no hints who might come into his engine room but needs someone who’ll provide similar attributes.
Tom Davies and Jean Philippe-Gbamin are the main contenders.
The Spaniard said:”Doucoure is someone who has a lot of energy. How can we replace him?
“With someone with the same passion, the same motivation and hopefully the same energy.
“The main thing is they will try to do the best for the team and I’m sure the player who goes on the pitch will do it.”
Everton’s injury problems have worsened this week.
Yerry Mina was expected to return to the starting XI having been benched in the 1-0 loss to West Ham after representing Colombia during the international break.
However, the centre-back has sustained a hamstring issue in training and is in the treatment room.
“I always say I don’t like to lie,” said Benitez.
“Yerry Mina was playing three games of 90 minutes with the national team and has to follow the Covid rules.
“He felt his hamstring a little bit in training and will not be available. He cannot be as important as you were expecting for this game.”
There has at least been some good news about Richarlison.
He will be back in the fray after being absent for the past five games, although he’s not 100% match fit.
Benitez added: “He has been training, he is OK. The match fitness is an issue but is happy and available.”
Bruce’s Magpies exit
Steve Bruce’s expected axing as Newcastle boss finally arrived earlier this week following their Saudi-based takeover.
Benitez spent three years in the St James’ Park hot seat before leaving at the end of his contract in the summer of 2019 - with Bruce his replacement.
On Bruce’s departure, Benitez said: “My relationship with the Newcastle fans is fantastic, the relationship with the people in the city is very good so I have very good memories and I can’t say too much.
“But, at the same time, I don’t like seeing any manager lose his job but that’s all I can say because the fans were really good with me.
“You have to accept in football that everything is fine if you win, if you lose then you can lose you job - not just here but in a lot of countries.”
Benitez has called on Lewis Dobbin to be on the bench in recent weeks, with the youngster coming on as a sub against Norwich and Manchester United.
Everton are delighted with the progress the 18-year-old is making and Benitez hasn’t ruled out a chance of him starting down the line.
The boss said: “I’m really pleased with him, he’s doing well.
“(Salomon) Rondon is getting fitter, Richarlison is available, we have the options with Alex, Gordon, Townsend and Demarai.
“We don’t want him to play games and then if he’s not doing well, start criticising a young player.
“He’s training well with us. He’s close. I
“How close? If we have a difficult game, in theory, he cannot be first choice if you have Richarlison.
“If it’s an easy game, maybe he can and will have an opportunity if he continues working the way he is now.”