By Jonty Banks

24th May, 2023 | 2:10pm

Dwight McNeil has taken on Richarlison role at Everton in fight against relegation - Michael Ball

Michael Ball believes Dwight McNeil has taken on the role of Richarlison at Everton this season, with the club “pinning their hopes” on the attacker in their fight against relegation.

Writing in his weekly column for Liverpool Echo (23 May), Ball admitted that it was a “sad state” to see the Englishman at left-back in the Toffees’ draw against Wolves last weekend after an injury to Vitalii Mykolenko.

Sean Dyche’s side are currently in the box seat to avoid Premier League relegation, needing to pick up just one point against Bournemouth at Goodison Park this weekend to maintain their top-flight status.

“Who is going to be our saviour? Somebody needs to step forward,” he said.

“Last year we were pinning our hopes on Richarlison but Dwight McNeil seems to have taken on that role since Sean Dyche came in and it shows just what a sad state we’re in that we had to play our top goalscorer at left-back at Wolves.

“Starting a Premier League season without a striker was just baffling and we’ve been paying the price ever since.

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“You hear a lot of stories about what might go on but the recruitment team can only do so much and then the decisions go to those who sign the cheques and if they can’t get deals over the line, what else can you do?”

One final push

Ball is bang on the money in his assessment of Everton’s current attacking predicament.

How Farhad Moshiri allowed Everton to enter the season with Dominic Calvert-Lewin and Neal Maupay as the club’s only striker options was horrendous planning – but what was almost worse was the sale of Anthony Gordon in the January window.

Although the winger forced Everton’s hand ever-so-slightly by not arriving at training for three days running, the choice to let him leave with just a few days of the winter window remaining left Dyche with no time to bring in any subsequent replacements.

The Toffees boss has done a remarkable job in getting enough goals out of his team to see them rise off the bottom of the Premier League and sit in the box seat for survival heading into the last game of the season.

Players such as McNeil and Abdoulaye Doucoure have risen to the pressure and delivered the goods when it really mattered.

Hopefully, they can carry on this momentum for one final game and secure the club’s Premier League status for another season.