Pundit Noel Whelan has sent Everton a warning over the return of Dominic Calvert-Lewin from injury, drawing similarities with Leeds striker Patrick Bamford, writes the FTT.
At the start of August, Toffees manager Frank Lampard announced that their number nine was expected to be out of action for six weeks with a knee injury.
Consequently, the 25-year-old is yet to kick a ball this season; and his absence is evident when looking at Everton’s attacking figures, having scored just four goals in their opening six Premier League games.
However, last Thursday, it was revealed by the club that the striker was back in training with the rest of the squad.
Whelan, who now works as an ambassador for Leeds, has warned Everton that Calvert-Lewin will need an extended settling-in period to avoid an instant return to injury, with his situation showing similarities to that of Bamford, who endured a stop-start 2021/22 campaign.
Speaking with Football Insider, the 47-year-old claimed: “It’s a similar situation to Patrick Bamford, isn’t it?
“You’ve got to maybe wrap him in cotton wool, ease him back into games – it’s important he’s not thrown in at the deep end. He’s got to build up that fitness, that match sharpness, the strength – or else you’re back to square one.
“They’ve got to get it right this time. You can’t be going 20 games in a season without your main number nine. It’s exactly the same situation as Leeds United with Bamford.”
When looking at Calvert-Lewin’s underlying statistics, it is clear to see that Everton lose a certain dynamic when they’re without their main target man up front.
As per FBRef, compared with positional peers across Europe over the past year, the Toffees’ number nine emphatically ranks in the top 4% for aerial duels won, averaging 5.5 per game in the Premier League last season.