By Adefunmiloye Alani

1st Dec, 2021 | 4:10pm

Rafa Benitez reacts to Abdoulaye Doucoure's availability for Liverpool game, tips injured stars' return

Everton play Liverpool on Wednesday night, and manager Rafa Benitez is expecting a tough clash at Goodison Park.

The visitors are favourites to win today (1 December) against the injury-stricken hosts, but the Spaniard has expressed his joy of having Abdoulaye Doucoure back in the programme notes published on the club’s official website.

The French midfielder returned to action against Brentford on Sunday (28 November) having missed four games due to a knock that was initially tipped to rule him out for weeks.

Doucoure’s availability is a massive boost for the Toffees ahead of the Merseyside derby, and Benitez has also revealed that those on the treatment table are due to resume soon.

He said: “There was good news with Abdoulaye Doucoure coming back. He gives us incredible energy and competitiveness and a different threat in the attacking areas with his ability and timing of his runs.

“Slowly, the injured players are returning and they will make a big difference.

“We welcome Jurgen Klopp and the staff and players of Liverpool. Evidently, Jurgen has done a fantastic job and he is making the most of such a long time working with his club.

“The ideas have developed over some seasons and now everything is clear for the players. This is one of the main reasons we expect such a tough game.”

Cannot afford to lose

Everton drew just two of their last seven games, losing others, and they need to respond tonight.

Form does not count for much in derbies, and with their fans behind them, the Toffees star can pull a surprise.

Benitez would have had very little sleep since the weekend, and he would have studied enough Liverpool matchday videos in order to recognise how to hurt them.

The Reds have the best attack in the land right now, but the same cannot be said of their defence.

They definitely have weaknesses that can be exploited, and if Everton execute their plans well and get their tactics right, just anything is possible.

While a win could be tough to get, a draw will be seen as a great result, and having Doucoure back in action should help.

There is still no Dominic Calvert-Lewin, but Demarai Gray, Richarlison and Andros Townsend have enough in their arsenal to hurt the Reds, and Benitez will be hoping his game plan works.

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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