Following the news that Gylfi Sigurðsson will be out for up to two months with a knee injury, Everton manager Sam Allardyce will need to assess the rest of his squad in order to determine how to replace the creativity the Icelander brings to the team.
The 28-year-old was one of many keenly anticipated new signings made by the club last summer, but more responsibility may now fall on another one of these players to bring some guile to the midfield.
Davy Klaassen was another such signing but has recently spent some time out of the team, and out of the squad altogether. His last appearance prior to coming on as a substitute against Brighton and Hove Albion last weekend was in December, in the final Europa League group game, against Apollon Limassol.
His absence has made Everton hearts grow fonder, and he was given one of the biggest cheers of the game when he replaced Tom Davies with five minutes to go. It was his first appearance in the Premier League since September.
While he may be a fan favourite, has the Dutchman really got what it takes to replace Sigurðsson in the side?
Sigurðsson leads the Everton team when it comes to the xGChain — a number based on expected goals which determines how vital a player is to a side’s attacking build-up play.
He also leads the way for Everton in terms of key passes per game with 1.4, and has three assists so far this season putting him second in the side behind Dominic Calvert-Lewin, who has four.
Playing as an advanced playmaker from the left, or in an attacking position in the centre of midfield, he has provided Everton with a trusty set piece taker, as well as contributing to the cause with four goals.
With Yannick Bolasie back from injury and slowly regaining match fitness, plus the encouraging introduction of Theo Walcott on the other wing, Sigurðsson’s role for the rest of the season would have been in the central attacking midfield position, and this is where Klaassen could come in.
In his last season at Ajax, the 25-year-old racked up 20 goals and 12 assists in all competitions from these central positions, and these figures, if replicated this season, would have made him far and away Everton’s most productive player.
During that season he also averaged 1.8 key passes per game, which is more than Sigurðsson’s average this term, and he also made 1.6 tackles per 90 minutes, a number which he has replicated in the Europa League for Everton.
“I like to get in the box and I also like to be aggressive on the field and press all the time,” Klaassen said on joining the Toffees.
“It is not the most important part of my game but goals are important in football. I will try to do my best and the goals will come. I like to win and to win you have to provide or score goals.”
The numbers he put up at Ajax show that he does have the ability to create and score himself, but he has only registered one assist so far this season and that came in the Europa League qualifier against Ruzomberok.
His inclusion in those Europa League sides meant he was part of one of the more disappointing aspects of the club’s campaign, as they exited miserably in the group stage having only managed four points from their six games.
But while other players have been given the opportunity to put things right, Klaassen has remained sidelined without being given the chance to show his true worth.
This lack of game time has made it difficult for him to gather any momentum, but things may now be about to change on this front. His mere inclusion in the squad for the game against Brighton was a step in the right direction, and though an injury to another player will not have been the way he wanted to work his way back into the first team, it is a chance nevertheless.
A run in the side with Sigurðsson out could be the boost he needs to start producing the numbers he was able to in the Eredivisie, and this in turn could start to propel Everton up the table.
Their visit to Stoke this weekend is a chance to end a run of torrid away form.
They’ve suffered five away defeats on the bounce, and have only won once away from Goodison Park this season. Klaassen’s industry could be just what they need in the The Staffordshire Potteries, while Allardyce will also be tempted to stick with Rooney in the deep lying role in which he performed so well last time out.
Whatever the manager decides to do, the presence of Klaassen in the squad will at the very least give him an option from the bench, but if it were up to the Everton fans, he would be in the starting eleven.