Lukaku's return not a welcome sight for Moyes

Everton's Romelu Lukaku is set to face Sunderland today after his recovery from a calf problem. The Belgium striker is the club's top scorer this season with 17 goals.
Everton's Romelu Lukaku is set to face Sunderland today after his recovery from a calf problem. The Belgium striker is the club's top scorer this season with 17 goals.PHOTO: REUTERS

LONDON • Romelu Lukaku's return to fitness has given Everton extra reason for optimism as they prepare to welcome their former manager David Moyes back to Goodison Park in the English Premier League today.

Lukaku was outstanding in Everton's last home match, scoring four times in a 6-3 victory over Bournemouth at the start of February, but missed his club's recent five-day training camp in Dubai to have treatment on a calf problem.

Moyes, now in charge at Sunderland, will be disappointed to learn that the Belgium striker has been passed fit, and is ready to add to the total of 17 goals that makes him Everton's top scorer this season.

In addition to Lukaku, midfielder James McCarthy is ready to return from a hamstring injury, and winger Kevin Mirallas has recovered from a groin problem.

Spirits are good too, thanks to a sequence of eight league matches unbeaten, during which Everton have gathered 18 points and kept five clean sheets.

With no cups to play for, and European qualification a distant shot at present, the Toffees are more or less free to play without pressure. Ronald Koeman, though, will not stand for his players easing up.

"The best way to be successful is game by game," the Everton manager said. "We like to win and we need to play on a good level. We are not a team who will give a lot of space away."

Moyes returns with a Sunderland team bottom of the table and needing a lift after losing 0-4 at home to Southampton in their last league game a fortnight ago.

The Black Cats have won only once since Boxing Day - a 4-0 triumph at fellow strugglers Crystal Palace - and have lost four of their last six games.

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on February 25, 2017, with the headline 'Lukaku's return not a welcome sight for Moyes'. Print Edition | Subscribe