By Alex McLeish

2nd Dec, 2021 | 4:07pm

Ex-manager makes 'nightmare' Calvert-Lewin claim at Everton after what he's heard

Alex McLeish has admitted losing Dominic Calvert-Lewin to injury has been a “nightmare” for Everton this season.

The former Scotland manager, speaking exclusively to Football Insider, has insisted Rafael Benitez is right to cite the injury problems at Goodison Park as reason for the club’s poor form.

Speaking at his press conference on Tuesday (30 November), Benitez admitted the absence of “key players” like Calvert-Lewin have prevented the Toffees from performing at their best.

Everton suffered their sixth defeat in seven league games with a 4-1 loss at home to Liverpool on Wednesday (1 December).

McLeish admitted he empathises with Benitez after suffering a similar situation with Darren Bent in his season as Aston Villa manager.

McLeish told Football Insider’s Russell Edge: “I started pretty strongly at Aston Villa as well, in the top half of the table.

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“Then there were some results where you start losing top, top players. I saw that Rafa was speaking about that, about injuries they have had.

“He thinks they will come back again strong and the team will be enhanced. That was a kind of similar situation for me, I’ve got to say. We started really well and then all of a sudden you lose a lot.

“I lost Darren Bent for the second half of the season. Shay Given was out with a broken collarbone, Stilyan Petrov had a terrible illness. These things come to haunt you a little bit.

“Rafa doesn’t have his strongest XI. He’s suffered with injuries, he cites that as part of the reason and it is.

“Calvert-Lewin was doing extremely well. Darren Bent started like a house on fire at Villa, the season I was there. We lost him just after new year and he was finished for the season.

I’m speaking from experience and empathy. What a nightmare that is for your goals return, when you lose a striker who’s been hammering them in.”

Calvert-Lewin has missed Everton’s last 11 league games with a fractured toe.

The Toffees have won just twice without their star striker.

In other news, Football Insider pundit blasts fitness of Everton star who is “10 yards” off the pace.