Doucoure: I've Come Back Stronger

Abdoulaye Doucoure believes he’s come back “stronger” from the hamstring injury that saw him miss 10 matches between December and February - and is also confident Everton are close to returning to winning ways.

The influential midfielder recovered from a hamstring injury to start against Crystal Palace last week and was back in Sean Dyche's starting XI down on the south coast for Saturday’s 1-1 away to Brighton & Hove Albion. 

Operating in a familiar role as the most advanced Everton midfielder, Doucoure was again relentless with his running and unfortunate not to have grabbed his seventh Premier League goal of the campaign when his sweetly-struck volley midway through the second half was cleared off the line by Brighton defender Tariq Lamptey. 

“It felt very close,” said the midfielder reflecting on that effort to evertontv. “I have not watched it back but I remember it was a perfect ball from Dwight and a good volley from me. But also, a good stop from Tariq so fair play to him.”

On being back out there for the Blues, Doucoure explained: “I am so happy. It was very frustrating to be out - I hate to be injured. 

“Obviously, I came back but then had another injury so it was a big setback. But I have come back stronger, my mentality is still there, and I still want to help the team. The Brighton game was an ever better performance from the last [against Crystal Palace], so each game I am getting closer to full fitness. Hopefully, I am going to come back to my best.”

Saturday’s 1-1 draw extended Everton’s recent run to just two defeats from their past nine matches - one of which came away to Premier League, European and world champions Manchester City. 

However, it was so close to being more with Brighton’s Lewis Dunk equalising late in second-half stoppage time to rescue a point for the home side. Reflecting on that disappointment, Doucoure admitted the team are desperate to start turning some of these solid points into victories but believes the group are edging ever closer to doing so.

“We are very close,” he said. “You see on Saturday, we were very close to winning the game. Obviously recently, we haven’t got as many wins on the board but they’re going to come along. 

“We work hard and everyone is focused on their jobs and, hopefully, Saturday against West Ham is a nice game to get a win at home in front of our fans.

“We have to go on the front foot against West Ham. We know they are a hard team and a strong team. But at the moment we are playing good, and I think we need to be aiming to win definitely.”