Sam Allardyce is relishing the prospect of being able to call on a confident Yannick Bolasie on a “consistent basis”.
Everton manager Allardyce has been denied the services of a number of key performers during his embryonic Goodison Park reign.
Bolasie returned from a 12-month layoff at the back end of last year but the Toffees have been reluctant to overburden the former Crystal Palace man in the initial phase of his comeback.
Allardyce was similarly deprived of the talismanic Seamus Coleman for a prolonged period, with Saturday’s 2-0 Goodison Park victory over Brighton & Hove Albion marking the first time Republic of Ireland star Coleman had started successive games for a year.
Coleman’s fellow full-back Leighton Baines played his first match under Allardyce against Brighton after more than three months out with a calf injury and crowned an immaculate display by teeing up Cenk Tosun for Everton’s second goal.
The opener had arrived when Albion defender Gaetan Bong unwittingly turned home the latest in a string of menacing crosses from the lively Bolasie, starting just his fifth game since damaging knee ligaments in December 2016.
Bolasie delivered six balls into the Brighton box and further illustrated his assertive outlook by aiming four shots at goal and embarking on three dribbles in Albion territory. It all points to Bolasie travelling in the right direction as he bids to relocate the creative form which was a feature of the opening stage of his Toffees career. The DR Congo international scored once and provided four assists from just 12 starts before he was cruelly struck down last term.
Asked by evertontv about Bolasie’s contribution to the Toffees’ third home win on the bounce – they have chalked up 20 points from 27 available at Goodison since Allardyce watched his new charges beat West Ham United ahead of his appointment as boss – the manager said: “He was [fantastic with and without ball]. He improved the more it went on – the longer the game went on and the more we got the ball to him. And perhaps the game opened up a bit more [after the opening goal].
“What I liked, is that when he produced the final ball that caused the first goal, his game got even better from then on.
“He got more confidence straightaway. He started running at them more, causing them more and more problems.
“It will be nice to see the old Yannick back on a consistent basis because I think he gives us good balance down the left-hand side.
“Theo Walcott down one side and Yannick down the other gives the team a real good balance. And, of course, the only left footer we have in the camp, Leighton Baines [is back].”
Tosun and Walcott were Allardyce’s first two signings for the Club and the attacking duo were both instrumental in Everton's ultimately comfortable triumph over a Brighton side that arrived on Merseyside high on confidence.
Albion were unbeaten in seven matches in all competitions prior to the weekend, with that productive run pushing Chris Hughton’s men into the top half of the Premier League and FA Cup quarter finals.
Brighton, though, could not subdue Everton’s offensive power, with the Toffees' win seeing them climb above their visitors and into ninth. The ubiquitous Walcott consistently stretched Albion's rearguard with his direct running and his presence forced Bong into his fatal 60th-minute error.
Tosun slammed home the clinching goal with 14 minutes to play. It was the Turk’s second strike in successive games and Allardyce believes the 26-year-old is profiting from a period out of the firing line immediately after his transfer from Besiktas – with last month’s training camp in Dubai paying especially generous dividends.
“Patience with Cenk [was important] and it has been a difficult one for him to take,” said Allardyce.
“But it is my job to wait and get the lad to go and perform and be cheered and appreciated because he is producing the ability he showed in Turkey.
“That was not the case when he came. We put him in straightaway against West Brom [the 1-1 draw on 20 January] but he needed a bit of time.
“I also think the Dubai trip was massive for him, as it was for some of the others, in getting to know the players he is playing with and getting to know what it is like playing in the Premier League.
“His goal came from a nice little lay-off [from Baines] and was a beautiful finish.
“Hopefully, he will continue where he left off today, and where he left off last week, and that is to score more goals when he plays.
“Yannick’s match fitness is not right up there but he is looking like his old self.
"All the players deserve huge credit, they put on a really good performance. And the contributions from Cenk and Theo are making us better.”