Marco Silva says he is relishing the challenge of piecing together a gameplan to overcome West Ham United – and insists he is working with “one squad, not just 11 players”.
Everton manager Silva has been without a host of his established stars during the international break. Despite numbers being thin on the ground Silva was able to work with Bernard for a concentrated period, with the Brazilian training for the past fortnight after missing out on the Blues’ past two matches with a muscle injury.
The skilful former Shakhtar Donetsk forward could feature at some stage against the Hammers. And the same is true of Jonjoe Kenny, who has been limited to one Carabao Cup appearance this term but is likely to be in Sunday’s matchday party after fellow right-back Seamus Coleman sustained a foot injury playing for Republic of Ireland.
“Bernard has a little bit of a different profile from our other wide players: Theo Walcott, Richarlison, Ademola Lookman, even Dominic Calvert-Lewin when he plays on the sides," Silva told evertontv.
“He can give us more coming inside from his wing and with his decision-making [in central areas], which is very good.
“He can play in the three positions behind the striker. And he can put in crosses like our other wingers, more so when he plays on the right.
“On the left, his game is a little bit different - he has more or less the same profile as Lookman on that side.
“Jonjoe did well [in his cup outing against Rotherham United], he performed well. He is a boy who works really hard every day. He comes here and enjoys what he is doing and is fighting to have this chance in the squad.
“I will make the decision on our starting XI on Saturday and Sunday but he is a possibility to play on our right side.”
Silva was able to ramp up preparations for the visit of Manuel Pellegrini’s Hammers during the second half of this week when numbers were swelled at USM Finch Farm by the return of players from various points of the globe.
The former Sporting Lisbon boss is hopeful the consistent messages imparted on the training ground since he took charge will enable those coming into the team to slip in seamlessly.
“Everything starts in our training sessions and how we prepare for the matches,” said Silva.
“Of course, the past 10 or 12 days was not ideal. Until last Wednesday we worked with just eight players.
“But it is a good sign for our club because a big part of our squad was with their national teams. For us to prepare for the match it was not perfect but this is normal for a big club.
"I am preparing for the game in a normal way, we worked together on Thursday and Friday, and we still have Saturday.
“Of course [I enjoy the challenge], it is our job. It is what we have to do. We are stronger when we have all the players in good condition and ready to play.
“But when this does not happen, we have to find solutions. We have one squad, not just 11 players.”
Silva is waiting until the eve of the game to make a definitive call on the fitness of Dominic Calvert-Lewin, Theo Walcott and Idrissa Gana Gueye.
He will definitely be missing the suspended Richarlison and midfield duo Andre Gomes and James McCarthy, who has resumed light training as he continues to recover from the broken leg he suffered in January.
Michael Keane and captain Phil Jagielka are also ruled out. With Coleman absent, Leighton Baines is the only member of Silva’s group for the weekend who has skippered Everton under the current boss.
And Silva is calling for his players to share responsibility for leading the Toffees' efforts to extend their unbeaten start to the campaign.
“It is not just the players who are captains in the match who can be the leaders,” added Silva.
“We have players with the profiles to do that. In some games we are playing with a number of young players in our starting XI but we have players who have the right profile to lead us on the pitch.”