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Rafael Benitez pleased with Everton’s attacking options in absence of key pair

Everton v Southampton – Premier League – Goodison Park
(Image credit: Bradley Collyer)

Rafael Benitez has praised Everton’s attacking players for stepping up in the absence of key duo Dominic Calvert-Lewin and Richarlison.

Both have been missing for more than a month through injury and will again be on the sidelines when the Toffees take on West Ham in the Premier League on Sunday.

Last month’s 3-0 defeat by Aston Villa is the only game so far this season in which Everton have failed to score, with Andros Townsend, Demarai Gray and Abdoulaye Doucoure among those making their presence felt in front of goal.

Benitez said: “I think it’s important to realise for the players that the team has to score goals, not just one player. If you rely on just one player, it’s even easier for the opponents to stop you.

“So I think it’s important for us to have different players scoring goals, different options, different possibilities and different ways to do it. I’m happy with that because a lot of players are attacking, creating something in attack and scoring goals.”

Everton have also shown resilience, coming from behind to secure points in three league matches this season, including the 1-1 draw with Manchester United last time out.

“I’m disappointed that we conceded first but the reaction of the team was quite good and that shows that the mentality, the character of the team is there,” said Benitez.

“It’s something you can think as a positive for the rest of the season. When you will be in difficult situations, you can remember this time when the team was reacting and it could be positive. It could be something that I could use in the future if I need to use it. Hopefully not.”

Twenty-year-old forward Anthony Gordon was handed a rare start against United and took his chance, earning rave reviews for his display.

Gordon, who spent part of last season on loan at Preston, will be hoping to keep his place for Sunday’s match, and Benitez praised the academy graduate’s attitude

The Toffees boss said: “I think he has said in some interviews that he realised that he has to work hard and that is the way.

“When you have the talent, when you have the possibility to be a very, very good player, if you understand that you have more chances to do it.

“I’m really pleased with the way he is training, he’s working, and hopefully he can continue like that in the rest of the season and he will be an important player for us.”