By Adefunmiloye Alani

22nd Nov, 2021 | 10:10pm

Rafa Benitez: Rondon fit enough to start for Everton v Brentford

Everton will be without Dominic Calvert-Lewin and Richarlison for Sunday’s trip to Brentford, and Salomon Rondon is expected to start.

The Venezuelan international striker, 32, has been included in the Toffees Premier League starting XI five times this season, and Rafa Benitez has revealed to Liverpool Echo that he has improved in training.

Rondon joined Everton as a free agent on summer transfer deadline day, and his lack of a pre-season has seen him struggle to hit the ground running, but the manager is confident he can finally start delivering with his two key forwards ruled out.

Asked if the former West Brom hitman was fit enough to start, Benitez replied: “Yeah, 100%, because he has been training well the last two weeks. I am quite confident he can do well.

“When we talk about injuries, and you lose players through suspension and yellow cards, it is even worse, but okay, we have to manage with the players available and hopefully, we can do well.

“You don’t want to lose any player for any reason, but we are where we are. We have to manage with that.”

Hopeful

Rondon has missed all of Venezuela’s World Cup qualifiers since moving to Goodison Park, just to get his fitness back to peak condition at Finch Farm, and it appears he is now finally at the level Benitez is pleased with.

He came on against Manchester City on Sunday, but his drought continued and he could not make any impact during the 3-0 loss.

Cenk Tosun and Under-23s starlet Lewis Dobbin are the other striking options available to the Everton boss, and the duo would be expected to come off the bench at best at Brentford.

Rondon is a proven Premier League striker, and while he is yet to live up to expectations on Merseyside, opening his account in London and getting his side their first win in seven games would start endearing him to the fans.

Everton need him to start delivering right now amid recent woes, and he needs to repay Benitez’s faith in him.

In other Everton news, the Toffees are plotting January loan-to-buy bid for centre-mid hailed by Jack Grealish last month.

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