Carlo Ancelotti has been backed to start Brazilian midfielder Bernard in his first Everton squad when the Toffees host Burnley on Boxing Day, according to the Liverpool Echo.
Bernard has been in and out of the first-team throughout the season, having begun the campaign as one of Marco Silva’s first-choice options before falling to the bench in September.
A knee injury in November ensured the 14-cap international would miss further chances to feature, as well, but Bernard could now benefit with the club set to be dealing without Alex Iwobi for the next two to three weeks due to a hamstring issue.
Interim head coach Duncan Ferguson opted not to call on Bernard when Iwobi sustained the gripe at home to Arsenal at the weekend, but both Connor O’Neill and Sean Bradbury have backed Ancelotti to favour the 27-year-old in their pre-Burnley teamsheet predictions.
Ferguson opted to bring Cenk Tosun on for Iwobi when the 40-cap Nigeria star was forced off in the 11th-minute, though neither O’Neill of Bradbury feel there is a spot for the Turkey striker to occupy in the opening line-up on Boxing Day.
Should Bernard take Iwobi's place in the starting line-up?
Bernard starting against the Clarets would only be his second inclusion in the opening line-up since sustaining his injury away to Brighton on October 26, where he featured for 30 minutes.
The 2018 arrival has averaged the fourth-most key passes per 90 minutes of all Everton players this season, with Bernard penning 1.2 to Lucas Digne’s 2.5, Gylfi Sigurdsson’s 2.1 and Iwobi’s 1.4, per WhoScored data.
Bernard also ranks third for successful dribbles with 1.9 to Seamus Coleman’s 3.0 and Moise Kean’s 2.5.
In other Everton news, the club have made inquiries into signing a €30m striker in January.