Abdoulaye Doucoure will do “everything in my power” to help Everton emerge from a “difficult moment” following a comeback from injury on Sunday.
Frenchman Doucoure’s team host Liverpool in the season’s first Merseyside derby on Wednesday, aiming for the biggest pick-me-up of them all after a run of winless games.
The return of the midfielder after six weeks on the sidelines was, perhaps, the major plus point from the weekend meeting with Brentford.
Doucoure took charge of driving Everton forwards in pursuit of an equaliser after half-time, increasingly feeling his way into the game to inject energy and tenacity and purpose but ultimately unable to prevent a single-goal defeat.
His second-half display served as a reminder of what Everton have been missing since Doucoure was hurt in the encounter with West Ham United on 17 October.
Manager Rafa Benitez expects to remain without a handful of integral performers in midweek – but Doucoure, whose two derby appearances following a summer 2020 arrival were behind closed doors, is putting his hand up for responsibility as Everton seek a stirring response to a rough two months.
“I was in great form [before injury] but I have come back in a difficult moment and have to do everything in my power to help the team,” Doucoure told evertonfc.com.
“That is what I am working for – we have a big game on Wednesday to get back on track.
“We need a result in the derby and if we can have it against Liverpool, it will be great for the fans and we can come back and have a strong run.
“I have never played a derby with the fans and they will very important for us.
“It is not so easy for us at the moment but we need them and can have a great result on Wednesday.
“We know the fans are demanding more, that is normal, you play for Everton and have to get results.
“At the moment that is not the case.
“Every player has to show more character and aggression and achieve results to make the fans happy.”
Doucoure began the campaign in rude health, thriving on a more advanced role under Benitez.
He had two goals and four assists as Everton won four and drew two of their opening seven games to sit on the fringes of the top four.
The player, who scored two and assisted three operating in a more conservative manner across the whole of last term, fractured a metatarsal in his side’s eighth game.
Doucoure returned to an Everton side that had slipped in the standings after rotten luck with injuries and, in the opinion of Benitez, a dip in confidence resulting from the barren sequence.
They lost to a VAR-awarded penalty at Brentford despite making all the second-half running, with the home team content to sit in and doggedly preserve their slender advantage.
“We are all disappointed but we tried everything to come back into the game,” added Doucoure, who confirmed he navigated 90 minutes without any fitness issues.
“We had chances but didn’t hit the target with some, or score the goal, which is the main frustration.
“But we tried and will keep going.
“I needed time to get myself in the game, I [progressively] felt better and more comfortable.
“I showed good things in the second half but, unfortunately, it wasn’t good enough to come back into the game.
“I want to improve and be ready for the next match.
“It is a very busy period, with a lot of games, and we have to start winning.
“The Liverpool game is coming, it is a derby and we have to be on the front foot and try to win.”