The England international forward enjoyed a bright start to the 2021-22 campaign, but then saw a muscle problem keep him out for four months

Dominic Calvert-Lewin has been opening up on the “soul-destroying” fitness issues that forced him to spend four months on the sidelines after injuring the same leg three times, with the Everton striker admitting that he faced a serious “mental battle”.

The 24-year-old has come through that, with five appearances made since returning to action on January 2, but it has been a long road to recovery for the England international after initially being laid low in August 2021.

Three Premier League goals had been scored through as many appearances at that point – when quadriceps problems struck – and a campaign which promised so much has had to be slowly rebuilt by Calvert-Lewin and the Toffees as a collective.

The powerful forward, who hit a career best 21 goals in all competitions last season, told Everton’s official website of the physical and emotional challenges he has faced: “The injury was so frustrating because I started the season so well and I was in a good moment.

“To re-injure the same leg three times, it was soul-destroying at points, and it takes you to the depths of a mental battle.

“It’s difficult seeing the boys play and you feel so far away. I’d feel close to coming back and then I was sidelined again.

“You have to dig deep and show courage and character. I feel I’m now a stronger person and a stronger player and off the back of that I’ll return to a top level.

“I’ve been training consistently for a couple of weeks. Now, I feel physically a lot better and much more confident in my body.

“I hold high standards for myself and when you’re not quite at that level that you expect, it can become frustrating.

“I’m trying not to get too frustrated with myself. The fitness and sharpness will come and I just need to keep getting in the right areas, doing the work, and I’m sure the goals will follow.”

Calvert-Lewin is yet to find the target since returning to competitive action with Everton, but is full of confidence again as he looks to chase down an England recall in a World Cup year.

He is also having to impress a new manager at club level, with Chelsea legend Frank Lampard having succeeded Rafa Benitez as Toffees boss in late January.

A new era is yet to spark into life on the blue half of Merseyside, with Calvert-Lewin being welcomed back into the fold at a time when relegation fears are starting to form for a side sat four points and two places above the drop zone.

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