Marco Silva says Saturday’s visit to Newcastle United will present him with one of his biggest selection conundrums since being appointed Everton manager.
The Blues will go to St James’ Park aiming to stretch their unbeaten run to a third game after claiming four points from the past two matches.
Silva used pedigree international pair Richarlison and Andre Gomes from the bench in last Sunday’s Merseyside derby – and in the victory at Cardiff City five days earlier handed recalls to Morgan Schneiderlin and Phil Jagielka.
Brazilian Bernard, meanwhile, reclaimed his attacking berth for the derby after coming on against Cardiff to create a goal for Gylfi Sigurdsson.
Former Sporting Lisbon manager Silva has a near-full complement of players available for the meeting with Newcastle, defender Leighton Baines the only confirmed absentee.
“It is one of the most difficult [team selections],” Silva told evertontv.
“The answers are coming from the players, every day.
“They know I have a plan and strategy and I have to pick the players who fit best into the strategy and plan for the match.
“But at the end, they will be part of the decision.
“They have to show to me during the week [they deserve to play] – and, of course, when I take some decisions nobody expects, they are coming from the training sessions.
“And the players know that.”
Portugal international midfielder Gomes started 19 Premier League matches in succession prior to Everton’s recent prolonged break from action.
He played the final two minutes at Cardiff and replaced Schneiderlin with 14 minutes remaining in the derby.
Richarlison has started 24 league games following his move to Goodison Park from Watford in pre-season.
The Brazilian, who has won all six of his full caps as an Everton player, was a replacement for Theo Walcott in the derby, coming on in the 59th minute and nearly teeing up a decisive goal for compatriot Bernard.
What’s more, when Silva chose to change strikers during the game against Liverpool, he was able to summon 35-cap Turkey international Cenk Tosun from the bench.
Asked if the stellar performances of those coming on during matches pointed to a squad pulling in the same direction, Silva said: “I have no doubts about that.
“I am the first one to fully understand our players.
“I know it can be tough for a footballer… when you have your derby at home, a special match, and you are playing often, but the coach decides you are not playing.
“But they both showed to me… they are not just very good players but good professionals.
“They were fully involved in our objective for the match. Everyone is involved in all the moments we have as a team, if they start or come from the bench.
“Richarlison and Andre – and Cenk also – changed the game. They were part of our best moments during the match.
“They are important and showed me they are really involved, I don’t have doubts.
“It was my decision because I have a strategy and plan for each match.
“They showed me what Bernard showed in the game before.
“It is something I want: for the players on the bench to come on and help the team and help us solve any problems.”
Silva admitted his players’ confidence was climbing after two positive results.
And he hopes their elevated mood will be reflected by a bright and progressive display against Rafael Benitez’s Newcastle, winners of their past four home Premier League games.
"The players are more confident and have a smile on their faces,” added Silva.
“That is normal when you prepare for a match after two good results, even if the more recent game wasn’t exactly what we wanted – because we wanted the three points, we never play just to take a draw.
“They are working hard and have been in a better mood, the environment is better [when everybody is upbeat].
“It gives them the confidence to keep improving their performances.”