Everton manager Ronald Koeman is optimistic that summer signing Sandro Ramirez will have recovered from injury in time to feature in Thursday night's (24 August) crucial Europa League play-off round second-leg meeting with Hajduk Split.
Sandro finally arrived on Merseyside from Malaga in a £5.2m ($6.6m) deal last month following a drawn-out saga and his exertions at the European Under-21 Championship. He featured for his new club in both qualifying clashes against Slovakian outfit MFK Ruzomberok in addition to starting their Premier League opener at home to Stoke City.
However, the 22-year-old was replaced by Kevin Mirallas in the 77th minute of that slender victory at Goodison Park after sustaining a heel problem. He was subsequently ruled out of a first-leg victory over Hajduk Split and also played no part in Monday evening's hard-fought draw with Manchester City.
Everton are in the middle of a difficult run of three tough away matches in six days, with trips to the Etihad Stadium and Croatia's Dalmatian Coast followed by the small matter of a visit to Stamford Bridge on Sunday.
Koeman is hopeful that former Barcelona youngster Sandro will be fit for those latter two journeys after he suffered a setback early in the week and was pictured on social media watching the City game in a protective boot.
"I was disappointed he wasn't fit," the Dutchman was quoted as saying by the Liverpool Echo. "He had some problems yesterday. I hope for Thursday. We have a really tough five days."
Everton will remain without long-term absentees Yannick Bolasie, Seamus Coleman and Ramiro Funes Mori for the foreseeable future, while wantaway playmaker Ross Barkley could miss six weeks with a hamstring injury as he looks to seal a move away from his boyhood club before the 31 August transfer deadline. Midfielder Morgan Schneiderlin is also set to serve a one-match domestic suspension after being controversially dismissed for two bookable offences against City.
The Toffees will travel to Split holding a commanding two-goal advantage following efforts from Michael Keane and Idrissa Gana Gueye in an opening fixture that was temporarily halted due to crowd disturbances. However, they also wasted several key chances to put the tie beyond reach and relied upon new goalkeeper Jordan Pickford to ensure that the visitors did not find a potentially pivotal away goal.
"Really happy about the first half and really unhappy about the second," a disappointed Koeman lamented afterwards. "I think we lost a big opportunity to score more goals today and decide qualification. I don't think it's because we were tired after 45 minutes. I don't think our opponent made it more difficult.
"This is two legs, and with a better result it would be even more easy. It will be difficult now."