Everton left-back Lucas Digne is a doubt for this weekend’s clash with West Ham, The Liverpool Echo reports. West Ham host Everton at The London Stadium in Saturday’s late kick-off but the visitors could be without Digne.
The France international recently had to withdraw from the national squad due to a thigh injury and he is currently being assessed.
If Digne is deemed unfit to face West Ham, Manuel Pellegrini has to identify the opportunity to exploit his replacement: Leighton Baines.
Lucas Digne thrives at Everton
Digne has been a key player for Everton this season and is the front-runner to win the club’s Player of the Year accolade. The 25-year-old joined from Barcelona in the summer and has been a constant threat down that left flank.
With three goals and four assists in the Premier League, Digne is Everton’s not-so-secret weapon from set-pieces and open play. And without him, Marco Silva has to change his approach.
Leighton Baines: the weak link
If Digne is ruled out, Baines will be recalled to the left-back spot. The 34-year-old is well past his peak and is on a rapid decline.
Baines has only played eight games this season – filling in when Digne is unavailable – and he has been identified as a weakness by other managers.
His last outing came in early February, where he conceded a penalty against Wolves and was substituted after 37 minutes. Baines will be rusty and whoever plays on the right wing will be expected to take him on at every opportunity.
Michail Antonio or Marko Arnautovic – two players who are strong and quick – are the two standout candidates to target Baines.