Everton manager Rafael Benitez admits he is dealing with a complicated situation surrounding Jean-Philippe Gbamin.
The Ivory Coast international has endured a terrible time since joining from Mainz in August 2019, missing virtually two years with consecutive thigh, Achilles and knee injuries.
He has managed just 282 minutes of football and his Premier League comeback against Wolves earlier this month ended in ignominy when he was hauled off at half-time having looked well short of the level required.
Since then he has only featured as an 89th-minute substitute in the goalless draw at home to Tottenham – a match in which Benitez opted to send on centre-back Mason Holgate to play in midfield ahead of him – even though injuries have left the Toffees boss significantly short in the centre of the park.
“I will say that, to be fair, it’s complicated,” said Benitez.
“After two years to play against Wolves, a team that was passing the ball, was not easy for him. It was not easy for the team or for him.
“We had to make a decision against Tottenham with 15 minutes to go, I put in Holgate who used to play in this position sometimes.
“It was not great, we have to be honest it didn’t work (Holgate was sent off eight minutes after coming on), but you have to make these kind of decisions and the players have to accept that sometimes it’s like that.
“You have to go there and even if you’re not ready you have to perform. If not, the only way to change that next decision is to be working harder.
“In this case Gbamin has been training well (this week) so I’m happy with that.
“Hopefully he can understand you have to make a decision and it’s just your job.”
Benitez could have up to eight players unavailable to face Brentford if Abdoulaye Doucoure (out for a month with a broken foot) and Demarai Gray (groin) fail late fitness tests.
Nevertheless, he will resist the temptation to pad out his squad with youth team players despite being short on numbers.
“We used to have the same problem every year, not just here but in every country and every club when we talk about young players,” he added.
“It seems that to be young is to be good enough.
“Anthony Gordon is a young player (and) people were asking for him to play.
“After two or three weeks he was mentally ready, he’s a player with quality and he’s playing.
“When the players are good enough and mentally ready, they can play.
“But in some positions maybe you don’t have this – maybe the young players have the potential but don’t have the experience or mentality at this time.
“Some of them will need more time. If you have top class players, like (Wayne) Rooney at 17 years old he could play. There are not too many.
“Some people say we have to give them an opportunity. Yeah but ‘young’ players doesn’t mean ‘good’ players.
“They’re young players. Some of them will need more time than others.”