Everton sent Dominic Calvert-Lewin warning as he prepares for injury return against Brighton

The striker has been absent for the past four months but was due to feature against Burnley on Boxing Day.

Everton have been warned to manage Dominic Calvert-Lewin carefully during his return to action.

The striker hasn’t played for the Toffees since August because of a quad injury.

Background

But because of Covid-19 issues before the encounter was eventually postponed, Rafa Benitez warned he was going to have to play some players who were not fully up to speed.

Calvert-Lewin is expected to be back in the Blues’ squad when they host Brighton and Hove Albion on January 2.

What’s been said

Ben Dinnery, whose background is in injury data analysis and runs premierinjuries.com, stressed it will be ‘very risky’ if the centre-forward is thrown straight into the deep end.

“It’s important to give context around what being fit actually means,” he told Football Insider.

Dominic Calvert-Lewin in action for Everton. Picture: GLYN KIRK/AFP via Getty Images

“There is a big difference between being available and being fit. He is certainly available for selection.

“Maybe if the game had gone ahead against Burnley, Benitez may have had very little options but to involve him.

“But in an ideal world, that decision would have been nowhere near the forefront of his mind.

“He has been out for the past four months now. To throw him into that highly pressurised environment is a very, very risky situation.

“A return to training isn’t a return to play. In an ideal scenario, he would be managed.

“As it stands, he could bring some players back who have been isolating. I’d be very reluctant to say he’d start because it shouldn’t really happen.”

Will Calvert-Lewin start against Brighton?

The main reason why Benitez might have reluctantly played Calvert-Lewin from the outset against Burnley was because of a lack of options.

For Everton’s 1-1 draw against Chelsea, they were without Richarlison and Salomon Rondon. As a result, Ellis Simms was handed his debut.

The Toffees had five coronavirus cases for the Burnley encounter and Benitez was preparing to call up five players below the age of 21 if it had gone ahead.

If Richarlison and Rondon are available for the Brighton game then Calvert-Lewin is more likely to feature on the bench.