‘It is not fair’ – Benitez claims Everton are ‘punished’ for following rules

Lewis Oldham
Everton head coach Benitez

Rafael Benitez believes Everton have been “punished” for “trying to do the right things” regarding their Covid-19 situation.

The Toffees were not in action over the weekend. They were due to travel to The King Power Stadium to face Leicester but this was postponed as there was a Covid-19 outbreak in their opponent’s camp.

Only four Premier League games took place last weekend. A circuit-breaker was discussed on Monday but the clubs voted in favour of playing on.

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Everton are set to face Sean Dyche’s Burnley at Turf Moor on Boxing Day.

Benitez has revealed that their request to have this game postponed has been rejected. This is despite them having six injured players and five more out with Covid-19.

The Spaniard has informed the media that he has nine senior outfit players to choose from for the Burnley game. He also has three goalkeepers and young players to call upon.

Liverpool vs Leeds and Wolves vs Watford have been called off. In addition to this, Leeds have closed their training ground for two days.

As quoted by BBC Sport, Benitez has claimed that his side have been “punished” for following instructions:

“We have six injuries and five players with Covid,” said Benitez. “I think it is not fair.

“With the injuries and the positives we had, we were expecting that the game would be postponed. Now I have to think about if I have eleven players fit and where can I put them so I am really surprised that we are playing this game.

“You can close the training ground for two days and then you will be allowed not to play the game. We were trying to do the right things and then in the end maybe we will be punished for that.

“We have three dressing rooms. I know other teams don’t do that.”

The Toffees have been without Dominic Calvert-Lewin since August, but he has now returned to full fitness.

Benitez went onto suggest that they may be forced into playing the striker before he is ready:

“It’s quite dangerous for us, maybe someone has to take responsibility,” said Benitez.

“It’s not me, the manager, that wants to play the best players every game but someone has to consider that because of the circumstances of this game, we have to play players that maybe are not ready, maybe have some knocks or some issues or maybe have to play out of position.

“It is a difficult decision for us but I’m happy to see Dominic training with the team and hopefully he will be fine.”