By George Overhill

21st Oct, 2022 | 1:45pm

Frank Lampard has confirmed that Everton will be without three defenders for the visit of Crystal Palace on Saturday, with Nathan Patterson closest to a return.

The Scottish full-back was injured on international duty but is back in training and could return as early as next week.

Ben Godfrey and Yerry Mina, both injured in the opening day defeat to Chelsea are also ruled out, with the former possibly returning to training next week.

The Everton boss confirmed in his pre-match press conference on Friday afternoon (21 October), ahead of the visit of Patrick Vieira and his side a day later that the three won’t be available, and would not confirm whether Dominic Calvert-Lewin is in line for a second consecutive start.

The England forward was injured in preseason during a very difficult year personally, but started the defeat at Newcastle in midweek for the first time all season.

Lampard said that it was “really pleasing for everybody” that the number nine got through the majority of the game in the north east, and came through with no new issues.

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On the subject of Godfrey he suggested it would be too much of an ask to return to action before the World Cup break.

Back on the horse

The optimism which had built during the lengthy unbeaten run prior to the Manchester United defeat (9 October) has largely dissipated now, but it was always going to be a tough run of games.

Erik ten Hag’s side followed by away trips to Tottenham and Newcastle is a three-game stretch that has the potential to result in three defeats for plenty of sides in this league, and with some better finishing and luck there was enough to suggest they could have taken something from the latter two.

With them out of the way Lampard now embarks on a run where he will have no such leeway, with Fulham, Leicester, Bournemouth and Wolves before Manchester City.

Those are all teams that this Toffees side should be able to get a result against, and it is vital that they start picking up points again to avoid a slide towards the bottom of the table.

If that sort of thing goes on for too long it is very difficult to arrest, as the likes of Leeds and Aston Villa are finding out currently.

So changes are necessary after a lack of attacking incisiveness over the past couple of weeks, but it wasn’t long ago that were unbeaten in six and possessing the best defence in to flight, so a result against Palace, coupled with at few more subsequently can return a sense of heading in the right direction.

The Eagles have only lost once in the past two months, to Chelsea on 1 October, so are in decent form, but are currently just three points ahead of Everton so are exactly the sort of team Lampard needs to overcome.