Last man standing: Jermaine Beckford is the only fit first-team striker who has scored a goal this season.
I don’t know how many black cats have crossed David Moyes’ path or ladders he has walked under this season but the Everton boss seems to be cursed. Every time the club takes a positive step forward something hauls them back. This time, just days after the 2-1 win over Fulham lifted us into the top eight; our hopes of a positive end to the season have been dashed by a crippling injury list.
Marouane Fellaini we knew about. The Belgian is out for the rest of the season with an ankle injury. We also saw Mikel Arteta limp off against Birmingham with a torn hamstring. The club have yet to confirm the Spaniard’s recovery time but the rumours are we won’t be seeing him in a Blue shirt again until August.
Louis Saha was the next player to be stretchered off after he landed awkwardly on his ankle against the Cottagers last weekend. Again the club have refused to make an official prognosis but the 32-year-old spoke to French newspaper L’Equipe and ruled himself out the rest of the campaign, saying:
"I’m on crutches, I don’t feel good. I don’t know whether I will have this ankle problem for days, weeks or months.
"But it’s going to be difficult for me to play again before the end of the season.
"It’s tiresome to get all these injuries. They all come along just when I’m starting to get a run going. It is hard. It sucks. But I’m trying to think positive."
Keeping up? Good, because there is more to come…
Jack Rodwell limped off against Fulham but still joined up with the England under-21 squad. However, the midfielder returned to Goodison for treatment on an ankle injury and after a scan it turns out to be worse than first thought, with a recovery time of 4-6 weeks mentioned. Tim Cahill, who hasn’t been fully it since returning from the appallingly timed Asia Cup in January, is struggling with a foot injury and despite his infectious appetite to play as many games as possible, there are fears he too will be out for six weeks. Seamus Coleman began the week full of excitement ahead of his first competitive appearance of the Republic of Ireland. But after a week off training thanks to – yes you’ve guessed it – an ankle injury Coleman has pulled out of the squad and returned to Finch Farm for treatment. It isn’t yet known how long he will be out for.
The injury curse also spread to the reserves where young forward Jose Baxter – who would have been eyeing a recall to the first team given the lack of fit forwards – pulled a hamstring in Thursday’s reserve derby against Liverpool and had to limp off.
That all means we only have one fit centre forward who has actually scored a goal this season – Jermaine Beckford – and a midfield completely decimated. We can only cross our fingers that are other internationals come through their games unscathed.
But despite the gloom a quick glance at the reserve side means there could be reasons to be cheerful.
For starters Magaye Guaye scored for the French Under-21s in a 3-2 defeat of Spain in midweek. Despite playing regularly for the first team in pre-season Moyes has repeatedly said Guaye is one for the future, with the youngster yet to make a league appearance this year. But with a weakened forward line would it do him any harm by pitching him in a few games between now and May?
Greek striker Velios is also pushing for a first team spot. Like Dan Gosling and Seamus Coleman before him the 19-year-old slipped under the radar a bit when he signed for the Blues during the January transfer window. The big forward – who has 7 goals in 14 appearances for Greece Under-19s - has since bagged three goals in as many reserve games and set up both goals in the reserves’ 2-2 draw with Liverpool on Thursday, a performance lauded by reserve team manager Alan Stubbs.
Again he is earmarked as one for the future by Moyes but he seems to already have the build to cope with the physical side of the Premier League and given the scarcity of forward options he could well get a run in the first team from now until May.