By Alex Stevens
Gerard Deulofeu has urged Yannick Bolasie “all the best” in his recovery from the knee injury that is likely to sideline him for the rest of the season.
Deulofeu could be set for an extended run in the Everton side after being demoted in the pecking order for wide attacking roles following Bolasie’s arrival from Crystal Palace in the summer.
Everton announced on Monday night that Bolasie will undergo knee surgery after scans revealed that he has sustained a “serious ligament injury”.
Spanish winger Deulofeu, 22, expressed his sympathy for his playing rival as well as his confidence that the DR Congo international “will come back stronger” from what is a devastating blow.
— Gerard Deulofeu (@gerardeulofeu) December 5, 2016
Bolasie broke down at the 68-minute mark in Everton’s 1-1 draw against Manchester United at Goodison Park on Sunday.
The 28-year-old is now facing the prospect of between nine and 12 months on the sidelines, which is the normal timeframe for a player who has torn an anterior cruciate ligament (ACL).
— Everton (@Everton) December 5, 2016
The lengthy absence of Bolasie is a devastating blow to manager Ronald Koeman, who signed the wide player from Crystal Palace in the summer for a fee rising to £28million.
Nevertheless, it provides an opportunity for Deulofeu and Aaron Lennon to stake claims for a regular starting role before the January transfer window opens next month.
Both wide men have been kept waiting in the wings since Bolasie was signed and became the first choice for the ring-wing position.
Deulofeu has played 434 minutes for Everton in all competitions, across 11 appearances, but has yet to score or register an assist.
By contrast, Bolasie has played 1,164 minutes, across 16 appearances in all competitions, which have yielded one goal and four assists.