By Nick Ware

14th Oct, 2021 | 12:54pm

Predicted Everton XI v West Ham after confirmed Rafa Benitez team news

Rafa Benitez provided positive news on a trio of Everton first-team players on Thursday ahead of Sunday’s clash with West Ham.

The Blues return to Premier League action against the Irons at Goodison Park after a 15-day hiatus during the international break.

After suffering a spate of injuries before the enforced break, the Blues suffered a further blow last week after Lucas Digne suffered a grade one tear to the hamstring for France, but Benitez has confirmed the left-back, alongside Seamus Coleman and Alex Iwobi, are in training this week [Everton official club website].

The Spaniard also said that he had “fingers crossed” for the return of Yerry Mina, who is set to start for Colombia in their World Cup qualifier against Ecuador tonight [Thursday].

However, Benitez remained coy over whether they can start on Sunday, and if strike duo Dominic Calvert-Lewin and Richarlison will be back.

One man that does appear to be sure of his place on Sunday is Jordan Pickford, who started for England in their 1-1 draw against Hungary on Tuesday.

Ben Godfrey should keep his place at right-back, despite the return of captain Coleman to training, with Benitez praising the 23-year-old this week.

The Blues boss remains hopeful over the availability of Mina, and given the club are not in action until Sunday afternoon, that should increase his chances of starting, unlike Liverpool’s Fabinho and Alisson who play on Friday morning, a day before a Saturday lunchtime kick-off at Watford.

Michael Keane will keep his place in central defence next to Mina, while the lack of left-back cover surely means Digne will start against West Ham, even if he is not 100% fit to complete the 90 minutes.

Allan and Abdoulaye Doucoure are easy picks in midfield, while the sensational form of summer signings Andros Townsend and Demarai Gray marks them as guaranteed starters now.

Then comes the tricky part; Salomon Rondon and Anthony Gordon began the Blues’ last outing, a 1-1 draw at Manchester United, but if Calvert-Lewin and Richarlison are fully fit, are likely to drop down to the bench.

Richarlison uploaded a clip of himself undergoing individual training at Finch Farm on Wednesday, via his personal Instagram story, which suggests a start may come too soon on Sunday.

Calvert-Lewin’s chances appear even less likely with no signs of him in training, and Benitez making no mention of his availability.

As such, Gordon and Rondon should keep their places in the starting XI on Sunday.

This is how we think the Blues will line up against West Ham:

In other Everton news, Simon Jordan has hit back at Jim White in ‘disingenuous slobs’ remark after a broadcaster’s Farhad Moshiri suggestion.

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