Everton manager Sean Dyche will not judge Abdoulaye Doucoure on his moment of madness which led to a red card against Tottenham after praising the midfielder’s mental strength.
The Mali international starts a three-match ban at Manchester United on Saturday after being sent off for pushing a hand into the face of England captain Harry Kane, whose exaggerated reaction when falling to the floor did the player no favours.
Dyche was unhappy with the Spurs striker’s behaviour but will not hold the action against Doucoure, who has flourished under him having been sidelined by previous manager Frank Lampard and forced to train with the youth team for a period.
“He certainly doesn’t need to apologise. At the end of the day he knows you can’t raise your hands,” said Dyche.
“I thought at one point he might have snapped his (Kane’s) eyelash, which would have been tragic, but he seemed to be responding OK.
“He (Doucoure) is a very strong-minded character and I like that, he’s worked very hard so in a moment when it goes wrong he won’t be judged on that by me.”
Everton are four matches unbeaten, their best run since October, and Doucoure’s place in a midfield three with Idrissa Gana Gueye and Amadou Onana has played a key role in that.
Former United midfielder James Garner, who has been restricted by injury to just eight appearances since signing in the summer, came off the bench late on Monday and could be in line for his first league start for the club.
“We don’t know if he (Doucoure) will be a miss or not,” added Dyche.
“You’ll have to wait and see because it’s a great opportunity for someone else to play.
“There are a lot of good players here and I believe in them all. Openings do come around so it is who steps in and can take it.”
Long-term injured striker Dominic Calvert-Lewin, who has not featured for two months, is continuing his rehabilitation by doing work outside but Dyche would not say whether he would be fit enough to join the squad this weekend.