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Koeman explains Gueye absence after Everton prevail in Split

Everton manager Ronald Koeman expects Idrissa Gueye to be fit to face Premier League champions Chelsea despite the midfielder missing Thursday's Europa League match against Hajduk Split with a hamstring complaint.

Koeman's men closed out a 3-1 aggregate triumph to reach the group stages with a 1-1 draw in Croatia – record signing Gylfi Sigurdsson equalising courtesy of an astonishing 50-yard volley 14 seconds into the second half.

Senegal international Gueye had a scan on his injury that came back all clear but, with Morgan Schneiderlin ruled out of the trip to Stamford Bridge after his red card late on in Monday's 1-1 draw at Manchester City, Koeman did not feel able to take any risks.

"It was too risky to start with Gana," Koeman told a post-match news conference.

"He had a light… I don't call it a hamstring injury really because we did a scan this morning and the scan was positive, but it was too risky.

"We know we don't have Morgan on Sunday and that was a reason not to start with Gana.

"It's difficult. We know it's only three days - less than three days. We play at 1.30pm on Sunday and we need to travel. 

"But it's still the beginning of the season and I think we can get some fresh players back on Sunday and that's what we need. 

"But it's a nice challenge and we have a team that is really difficult to beat and that’s what we want to show again on Sunday."

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Koeman was delighted to secure a full European campaign for Everton, who reached the last 16 of the Europa League in 2014-15.

"Everybody likes to be part of Europe," he said. "Football without European football is not a level we want to play at. 

"It is good for the experience of the players. It's tough but I think we can deal with it.

"We deserved to be back in Europe because I think, watching the two games, we were the better team."