By Alan Hutton

21st Sep, 2021 | 8:00pm

Pundit makes 'huge' Everton claim with Rondon clearly 'off the pace'

Alan Hutton has claimed Salomon Rondon needs to “work harder” to be capable of leading the line for Everton this season.

Speaking exclusively to Football Insider, the former Scotland defender admitted replacing Dominic Calvert-Lewin is a “huge ask” for the 32-year-old.

Rafael Benitez confirmed last week the Toffees would be without Calvert-Lewin for at least two to three weeks.

The England international has a quad injury as well as a broken toe.

In his absence, Rondon made his first start against Aston Villa.

He lasted 63 minutes in the 3-0 defeat.

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Hutton admitted Rondon looks “a yard off the pace” for Benitez.

He suggested the Venezuela international needs to build up his fitness and match sharpness quickly with Calvert-Lewin out.

Hutton told Football Insider’s Russell Edge: “It’s a huge ask. He doesn’t quite look up to speed, yet, for me.

“For Everton, as any team, if you take out Calvert-Lewin, Richarlison, Pickford, you’re going to be a lot worse off.

“Taking your top players out, it’s going to be difficult. Rondon, I think, is a decent replacement if Calvert-Lewin is injured. I don’t think he’s playing at the level where he wants to be.

“He looks a yard off the pace. It’s difficult for him. They’ll be desperate to get Calvert-Lewin back, he’s a huge player for them.

“Rondon’s going to have to work harder to get to a level where he needs to be.”

Rondon’s only other appearance for Everton was a nine-minute cameo against Burnley.

Calvert-Lewin netted three times in Everton’s opening three games before being sidelined.

In other news, Everton tipped to land “boom” signing to replace “legend” after player reveal.