Lucas Digne believes Andre Gomes’ mental strength and steely determination will see him return an even stronger player upon his recovery from ankle surgery, describing the midfielder as “an unbelievable player and an unbelievable man”.
Gomes underwent surgery on Monday after sustaining a fracture dislocation to his right ankle in Everton’s 1-1 draw against Tottenham Hotspur.
The Club reported the procedure “went extremely well” and the 26-year-old was discharged from hospital on Tuesday.
Digne declared the Everton squad will support Gomes during every step of his rehabilitation.
“We are with him and we are always together,” Digne told evertontv. “He is an unbelievable player and an unbelievable man.
“I am not worried about his mentality and I am sure he will come back stronger. I know he will come back stronger.
“He has been playing so well over the past year.
“He is a big player for us. A great player.”
France international Digne first linked up with Gomes at La Liga giants Barcelona.
They joined Everton from the Catalan club during the 2018 summer transfer window, Digne signing on a permanent deal and Gomes on a season-long loan.
Gomes went on to deliver a series of a classy, authoritative midfield displays during the 2018/19 campaign, swiftly emerging as a fans’ favourite at Goodison Park. He completed a permanent transfer to Everton in June, penning a five-year contract.
Gomes' bond with Evertonians has been further strengthened by his enthusiastic work for Everton in the Community.
This was notably underlined in January when the Portuguese took part in the charity’s first-ever hug-a-thon, which raised funds for the charity’s ground-breaking mental health campaign, The People’s Place.
Digne - Everton’s captain in Sunday’s home game against Spurs - admits seeing popular teammate Gomes in such pain after suffering his injury was distressing.
The match was delayed for six minutes while Gomes was attended to by the Club’s medical staff before being taken off the field on a stretcher deep into the second half.
Digne says the team had to display their reserves of resilience and character to continue pushing for an equaliser upon the game's restart – which the Blues’ got when substitute Cenk Tosun planted a header home deep into stoppage time.
“I tried to speak with everybody, to stay focussed, but it is not an easy thing,” Digne said.
“You have to switch on and forget what happened, and stay focussed on our job, because it is part of our job.
“You have to fight for the badge.
“You see Cenk, he was so upset, and then he scores a perfect goal. It is something that can happen in football and we are so sad [for Andre].
“But we know he will come back and be stronger."