By George Overhill

21st Mar, 2023 | 8:10pm

Abdoulaye Doucoure revival delights pundit after he looked to have played his last game for Everton

Michael Ball is delighted by Abdoulaye Doucouré’s Everton revival under Sean Dyche after his career at the club looked over under Frank Lampard.

The Mali international was “exiled” by the former manager and has admitted that he came close to leaving Goodison Park in the January transfer window [Sky Sports, 5 March], but has started every game under the new boss.

He has taken advantage of his spot at the head of the midfield trio and scored in back-to-back away draws, 2-2 at Nottingham Forest (5 March) and Chelsea (18 March) respectively, which has taken Ball by surprise.

In his Liverpool Echo column on Tuesday (21 March) the former Toffee said: “I’m really pleased with Abdoulaye Doucoure’s revival at Everton which continued with his second goal in as many away matches at Chelsea on Saturday.

“He wasn’t getting any game time under Frank Lampard and there were even questions about his professionalism and whether we’d see him in a blue shirt again but like I say regularly in my column, whether you want to be at this football club or not, you need to start putting performances in and since Sean Dyche has come in, Doucoure has done just that.

“We wondered who was going to rise to the occasion and take these games by the scruff of the neck. Doucoure was one of the main men under Carlo Ancelotti and we hadn’t seen displays like that for a while.”

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“I wasn’t expecting Doucoure to step up but it’s brilliant to see him doing that and getting the best out of playing in that more forward position.

“He’s got the legs to get himself in the box and he’s an extra number in there, a headache for the opposition as they aren’t expecting Everton to get into the box in numbers but Doucoure is finding himself in the right positions.”

New life

Nobody, with the possible exception of Michael Keane, has benefited more from Dyche taking over at the club than the 30-year-old, as his time on Merseyside looked over under Lampard.

He is still currently in line to leave in the summer when his contract expires despite emerging as a key man under the new manager, although an extension has been tipped to materialise.

There is bound to be a large amount of movement in the summer so it may be that the investment is too steep for a player now in his 30s, but a short-term deal would seem to be sensible if the club stay up and Dyche plans to keep him in position.

He has been more consistent than Idrissa Gueye since he came back into the side, and the 33-year-old was brought back from Paris Saint-Germain in the summer on a two-year deal despite being multiple years older.

And the fact that he has chipped in with goals really is invaluable in this squad that has lost its primary attacking threats to transfer exits or injury over the past year.

Doucouré’s return to form and prominence may also prove to be an inspiration to some other largely-forgotten men, but Everton will have to guard against sentimentality when assessing their options in the summer.

Top flight survival is the name of the game until then and so far the former Watford player is certainly playing his part.