Everton are set to be without Abdoulaye Doucoure for the foreseeable future, with Carlo Ancelotti ruling the midfielder out of a Premier League clash with Burnley and an FA Cup quarter-final tie with Manchester City.
It has been suggested that an unsung hero at Goodison Park has suffered a fractured foot, meaning that he could be sidelined for some time.
Ancelotti is still waiting on the outcome of medical tests, with no break confirmed as yet, but he admits that an important part of his plans is set to sit out crucial clashes in bids to secure a top-four finish and major silverware.
What has been said?
Ancelotti told reporters when asked for an update on Doucoure, having been without the Frenchman for a 2-0 defeat at Chelsea: “I have to be honest with you, I don't really know what happened, they are checking. We will be more precise in the next few days.
“We are sure he will be out - and I don't know how long - but until the [international] break and when we are more precise on the recovery I will tell you.”
Pressed to put a more definitive timescale on Doucoure’s absence, Ancelotti added: “Really, I don't know. It is an important injury but I don't know how long he will be out.”
Which games could Doucoure miss?
Everton are due to play host to Burnley on Saturday, with Ancelotti’s side continuing to sit four points adrift of the Champions League qualification spots.
They are then due to face Manchester City at Goodison Park on March 20, with a place in the semi-finals of the FA Cup up for grabs.
An international break will give any walking wounded an opportunity to work on their fitness, but it remains to be seen whether Doucoure will have enough time in which to fully recover.
Everton will return to action on April 3 at home to Crystal Palace, before then travelling to Brighton a week later.
The bigger picture
Doucoure has been a key man for the Toffees on the back of a £20 million ($28m) move from Watford in the summer of 2020, with just two Premier League games sat out this season.
Everton are now having to manage without him, but Ancelotti believes he has the strength in depth to cover any absences.
The Italian added: “We were without Allan for two months and Tom Davies did fantastic performances. We are also going to manage the absence of Doucoure, of course.
“He is an important player, he puts a lot of energy [into the midfield] but I think we have the possibility to replace him well.”