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Koeman: Rooney fit to play, Pickford will start

Manager’s comments ahead of key second leg clash tomorrow

Everton Unveil New Signing Wayne Rooney
Ronald Koeman
Photo by Mark Robinson/Getty Images

Everton are in Slovakia to take on MFK Ruzomberok tomorrow in the second leg of the Europa League third qualifying round, holding a narrow 1-0 lead from the first tilt last week at Goodison Park.

The Toffees flew out earlier today and manager Ronald Koeman addressed the press soon after landing, speaking about the game ahead.

Speaking about his starting lineup tomorrow, the manager stated that new signing Jordan Pickford would start the game between the posts.

“We know we need to make decisions on the team and it is not only about the goalkeeper. It’s still the pre-season but we can’t call it pre-season because we’re playing in an important game tomorrow.

“Pickford will start the game.”

Veteran Wayne Rooney has recovered from his minor groin strain, and would also play tomorrow.

“Wayne had some groin issues in the past few days but he trained normally yesterday and this morning.

“He is fit to play tomorrow.”

Speaking about tomorrow’s opponents, Koeman cautioned about their strengths from setpieces -

"We know it’s not an easy game tomorrow. We know this is not an easy opponent. I hope we will be further than we were last week.

"We expect to create more chances tomorrow. They created chances from set plays last week and that's something we need to look out for.

"We always come to play offensive football. We're not coming here to defend the result, we're here to win the game."

The city of Ruzomberok only has a population of about 30,000, with its suburbs accounting for an additional 15,000. Their home stadium has a capacity of 4,876, and Koeman commented about the size.

"There's a great view from the bench but it's about the result tomorrow."

And in what can only be considered good news, when asked about the long-running transfer saga surrounding Gylfi Sigurdsson, Koeman said he still hoped that a deal could be worked out.

As an indication of what to expect tomorrow, per the Mail, Koeman has been training using three central defenders the last few days, with Tom Davies slotting in at right wing back.