Rafa Benitez shocked Everton will be made to play Burnley with nine senior outfield players available

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 (AFP via Getty Images)
(AFP via Getty Images)

Rafael Benitez admitted he was shocked that Everton’s attempts to get their Boxing Day clash against Burnley postponed have been rejected by the Premier League.

Five members of the Toffees’ squad tested positive after the 1-1 draw at Chelsea last week, while Richarlison and Andros Townsend are among a number of players missing with injury.

Liverpool vs Leeds and Wolves vs Watford, both scheduled for Boxing Day, have been postponed due to Covid outbreaks, and Everton believed the Premier League would accept their request to rearrange the Burnley match.

But they will have to make the trip to Turf Moor, even if it is with an extremely depleted side.

“With the injuries and the positives we had we were expecting that the game would be postponed,” Benitez said.

“Now I have to think about if I have 11 players fit and where can I put them, so I am really surprised that we are playing this game.

“The problem is we have nine outfield players available plus three keepers and after we have to bring in five young players who are not even 21 years old. It seems that they have enough experience to play in the Premier League.”

Some rare good news on the injury front for Everton is that Dominic Calvert-Lewin is back in training. The striker has been out since the end of August with injury problems, an absence that has hit his side hard.

Benitez fears that he will have to rush his main man back sooner than hoped due to the fact Everton are already without so many players, and believes the Premier League has to take more responsibility when it comes to player welfare.

“It’s quite dangerous for us and maybe someone has to take responsibility,” Benitez said. “It’s not me, the manager, that wants to play the best players every game.

“These players after (being out for) months maybe they have to play 90 minutes so we are exposing them.

“But someone has to consider because of the circumstances of this game, we have to play players that maybe are not ready or players that have some knocks or issues, it’s a difficult decision for us.

“I’m happy to see Dominic training with the team and hopefully he can be fine. My main job now is to find 11 players in the right positions that they can compete against Burnley, it’s not easy.”

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