Sam Allardyce has revealed that Everton could be without defender Eliaquim Mangala for the rest of the season, due to a knee injury.
The centre-back only joined the Toffees on loan from Manchester City on transfer deadline day and has made just two appearances – one of those coming in the 3-1 win over Crystal Palace last time out.
Mangala picked up a serious problem in that match and was forced off at half-time, with Allardyce now fearing the worst.
Even though the full extent of the injury is yet to be confirmed, the Everton boss is expecting to be without the defender for some time.
Allardyce told the club’s website: “It looks like it could be long-term, which is a great shame for him and for us because I think he was a very good addition to us.”
Everton, who have been away in Dubai for a warm-weather training camp, have had defensive issues for the majority of this season and have not kept a clean sheet in six matches in 2018.
The Merseysiders are already without defensive trio Phil Jagielka, Ramiro Funes Mori and Leighton Baines, while midfielder James McCarthy is also set to miss the rest of the season with a serious injury.
After a week’s break due to the FA Cup fixtures, Everton return to Premier League action on Saturday, when they make the journey to Vicarage Road to face Watford.
The reverse fixture was a thriller back in November, when the Blues came back from 2-0 down to eventually win 3-2 in what turned out to be David Unsworth’s last league game in charge.
Everton lost at Vicarage Road in another five-goal thriller last season, with the two teams never playing out a goalless draw in 21 previous meetings.