Frank Lampard admits 'concern' over fitness of key duo ahead of early season Leeds United visit

Leeds United host Everton at Elland Road on August 30 in what could prove to be another goal-filled early season encounter after last year’s 2-2 draw

Monday, 25th July 2022, 2:18 pm
Updated Monday, 25th July 2022, 2:18 pm

Leeds United and Everton have both lost key players in this summer’s transfer window and will assess the damage of their respective sales while competing against each other next month.

The Toffees bid farewell to much-loved Brazilian attacker Richarlison who joined Tottenham Hotspur, while Leeds said goodbye to both Raphinha and Kalvin Phillips.

All three featured in last season’s 2-2 draw between the two sides at Elland Road, however the two men who scored for the visitors that day have so far remained at Goodison Park.

Everton boss Frank Lampard will hope to count on Dominic Calvert-Lewin and Demarai Gray when his side visit Leeds on August 30, a handful of matches into the new season.

Calvert-Lewin missed a large chunk of last season with fitness problems and repeated injuries, and has so far been unable to rediscover his best form.

The England international played 45 minutes apiece during Everton’s two pre-season defeats to Arsenal and Minnesota United, before the squad returned from the United States to face Blackpool at Bloomfield Road.

Calvert-Lewin played no part in Everton’s win over the Championship side, left out of the squad entirely.

Frank Lampard will rely heavily on Dominic Calvert-Lewin and Demarai Gray to remain fit and available this season (Photo by Robbie Jay Barratt - AMA/Getty Images)

Lampard discussed the striker’s absence at full-time, along with that of last season’s surprise package Demarai Gray: “You’re concerned because you want them on the pitch but they are small issues that were not worth risking today.

"We travelled back from America on a long overnight flight after Minnesota. Then the lads needed a bit of time off and came back so where they’ve got small issues it wasn’t worth risking them.

"Hopefully, they’ll be fit to train in the middle of the week and we’ll play it from there.”

Clearly the pair’s fitness is of paramount importance to Lampard and his team’s fortunes this season.

Everton have added James Tarkowski to the squad that narrowly avoided relegation last term, but failed to conduct additional incoming deals thus far.

The prospect of losing Richarlison to Spurs, Gray to injury and Calvert-Lewin to persistent fitness issues on the eve of the new season would be a daunting prospect for any team.

Leeds will be hoping the pair still at Goodison Park are ‘not risked’ against United in just over a month’s time, given the duo were instrumental in denying the Whites a victory against Lampard’s men last year.