By Alex McLeish

10th Nov, 2021 | 4:10pm

Pundit hails 'marvellous news' from Finch Farm on Everton star Doucoure

Alex McLeish has hailed an update on Abdoulaye Doucoure’s fitness as “marvellous news” for Everton.

The former Aston Villa manager, speaking exclusively to Football Insider, insists the midfielder’s return can’t come soon enough.

As confirmed by Everton last month (19 October), Doucoure, 28, suffered a stress fracture in his foot in that month’s defeat to West Ham.

However, Fabrizio Romano reported at the end of last month that the midfielder is set to return “earlier than expected” and claimed he could return in four and a half weeks.

On Wednesday, Everton insider El Bobble claimed Doucoure is nearing a return to light training at Finch Farm.

The reliable Toffees insider – followed on Twitter by Times journalist Paul Joyce – posted the update on their account late on Tuesday evening.

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McLeish claims Doucoure’s return will elevate the performance of the rest of his teammates.

“That’s marvellous news,” McLeish told Football Insider correspondent Ben Wild.

“We have seen how Everton don’t perform as well when key players are missing.

“Doucoure certainly is a key player. He plays at a really high level and elevates everyone else’s performance.

“I think Everton have dropped a gear since he has been out injured.

“It’s obvious to say but you really miss something when a key player is injured.

“You have to replace him with someone who isn’t quite at the same level and that will lead to poorer performances.”

Everton are 11th in the Premier League following Sunday’s 0-0 draw with Tottenham.

They face Manchester City after the international break.

In other news, Everton have been tipped to sign a ‘world-class’ defender in January after what a pundit has seen.