By George Overhill

6th Aug, 2022 | 6:20pm

Sky Sports pundit Alan Smith reacts as Everton hit by major Ben Godfrey injury vs Chelsea

Alan Smith reacted to an apparently major injury to Everton defender Ben Godfrey by calling it “the worst possible news for any player”.

After playing a blind back-pass that his keeper Jordan Pickford was unable to keep from going behind for a corner within the first 10 minutes, the defender scrambled back to make amends with the whistle yet to go, and came off worse in a challenge with Kai Havertz.

An eight-minute delay ensued before the 24-year-old was taken off on a stretcher with an ankle problem and replaced by Mason Holgate, as the injury issues in defence that plagued last season re-emerged.

Speaking live on the Sky Sports match coverage on Saturday evening (6 August, 5.45pm) the co-commentator said: “He knew straight away. It’s the worst possible news for any player. You work so hard during preseason to get to the right level of fitness, looking forward to the opening day, then an accident like that happens.

“He went into the challenge in a well-meaning way, trying to rescue his own mistake.”

The Toffees went into the game without captain Seamus Coleman and key senior striker Dominic Calvert-Lewin, already ruled out.

Not again

Frank Lampard has had to contend with extensive injury problems in his squad for the duration of his time in charge on Merseyside.

Although the arrival of James Tarkowski in defence has eased the worries at the back, the fitness of Yerry Mina is always a concern.

The Colombian, as well as Godfrey missed extensive time during the relegation battle struggles last term, so for one to be knocked out with what looks like a serious problem in the opening exchanges of the first game is a real blow.

Calvert-Lewin’s luck has been even worse, in not even making it to the line-up of the Chelsea clash before being ruled out for six weeks.

If Godfrey is out for a long time it could push the club to redouble their efforts to sign Wolves captain Conor Coady to ensure the Everton defence doesn’t become the weakness it often was last season.

A raucous Goodison crowd was momentarily subdued after the injury stoppage, but will be hoping to drive the team to yet another home win against the side from Stamford Bridge.