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Liverpool Echo
Liverpool Echo
Michael Ball

Everton must drag Wolves into a fight they don't fancy - and they need Dominic Calvert-Lewin

None of the players, or indeed Sean Dyche himself, will be able to predict what the Premier League has in store over the next two weeks. It means Everton can only target maximum points over their next two games; firstly at Wolverhampton Wanderers on Saturday and then against Bournemouth at Goodison Park eight days later.

The game against Leicester City earlier this month was one we probably should have won if we had put our chances away. I just hope our confidence hasn't been knocked after Sunday's defeat to Manchester City - I think the lads held their own and they probably couldn't have played much better, to be honest.

The confidence of going away and putting the ball in the back of the net as we did against Brighton last week will hopefully carry over to Wolves. Look, it's going to be a difficult game. They don't have too much to play besides a bit of pride and therefore might have some freedom to play a bit more football, but what Everton will want to do is try and quieten the Wolves fans and force errors early on.

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Will they be up for the fight for the rest of the game? I don't think they will. But it's up to us to force those errors and mistakes.

But this is the Premier League and we've been there as a football club when we've had shock results, we beat Brighton last week and that was a shock result if you consider where the two teams are in the league table.

At the end of the day, it's in our hands. If we win both of our remaining games we will be fine. It's up to us to have that belief. Yes, it's going to have that fear factor too, but we have to make it about the fear factor of not losing.

At the end of the day, you don't want to be playing football half-heartedly thinking teams elsewhere in the Premier League might do you a favour. You don't get favours in football. You've got to earn your own rewards and I'm sure Dyche will be telling his players exactly that in the days and weeks ahead.

If things change before that, great, but we've been at Everton Football Club for many years where many things have gone against us and we've had to dig it out ourselves. We went 2-0 down against Crystal Palace on the final home game of last season, we've had games at Wimbledon and Coventry City before that. So let's not do that this time. Let us do our own job first and then hope teams in and around us drop points so it makes it easier.

But I wouldn't be hoping as a player, or as a manager, that teams in and around us drop points and do us a favour. Let's do it ourselves and have a bit of pride and accountability for our own performances and get the job done ourselves.

And the key to winning either of those final two Premier League games will be the fitness of Dominic Calvert-Lewin. As fans, we've been very, very frustrated with his injuries in recent years. But, let me tell you, there will have been no one more disappointed than Dominic.

Being a footballer all you want to do is play, you don't really want to train. You want to play football and show everyone your ability and that opportunity has been taken away from him in recent times.

I think, to be fair, Dyche has taken care of him in the right way and he was made to wait until Dom was at a certain level fitness-wise. Every game he's playing he seems to be getting better and better. I thought he was absolutely brilliant against Manchester City. What he had to do, he did very, very well. He was unlucky not to come inside and Kyle Walker covered really well at certain moments. Each game he's playing he's looking sharper, fitter and fresher and that's absolutely much-needed for us.

Though I must say I was a bit surprised when he brought Neal Maupay on at half-time on Sunday, I thought he may have opted for Ellis Simms; he's the same size and profile as Calvert-Lewin and he allows us to play the same way. When Maupay came on it completely changed our style of play. He needs to run in behind and spin like Andy Johnson used to do. That was my only negative, I thought if he brought Simms on it was like-for-like.

But going forward, Dominic is absolutely vital for Everton's survival. We are a totally different team with him in it. He's bringing others in to play. Teams are scared of him and that's important for us because we haven't had that out-and-out threat.

Hopefully, his little niggle will settle in the coming days and he's ready for Wolves because he's very vital for our chances of Premier League survival.


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