Carlo Ancelotti has revealed James Rodriguez may in fact face Southampton on Sunday, after he cast doubts over the Colombian’s fitness yesterday.
Ancelotti said on Thursday that, due to an early challenge with Virgil van Dijk in Saturday’s 2-2 home draw with Liverpool, he did not think Rodriguez would recover in time to feature in Everton’s trip to St Mary’s Stadium.
But speaking at his pre-match press conference today, the Italian was more optimistic about Rodriguez’s chances of playing:
“He’s not definitely out. Fortunately his recovery was really good and he trained today; just a partial training session.
“I hope he’s going to train tomorrow and we will see if he’s in a condition to play on Sunday. He’s really better now, and we have confidence now that, maybe, he can play.
“He had a big hematoma that meant he was not able to train until today. I hope tomorrow is going to be better. Today was quite good but he only had partial training.”
Despite the boost for Rodriguez, Ancelotti revealed both senior right-backs, Seamus Coleman and Jonjoe Kenny, will miss the Southampton trip with injury, as well as the suspended Richarlison.
Ben Godfrey, who covered at right-back on his Everton debut after replacing Coleman during the Merseyside derby, will again deputise in this position against Southampton.
It had been mooted that Kenny may recover from the injury which forced him off during last month’s EFL Cup win over West Ham to face Southampton but, when asked about if he will be ready, Ancelotti replied:
“Not yet. He has to train more. We are without Seamus, Jonjoe and also without Richarlison.”
“I think Ben played a good game [against Liverpool]. It was not his usual position, but after the first 15 minutes where he had difficulty, the second half was really better. He played against one of the best wingers in the world in Sadio Mane, so it wasn’t an easy game.”
Ancelotti also said he has not given thought to leaving Jordan Pickford out of Sunday’s game, and does not question his mental state after the backlash from last weekend’s derby.
Pickford clattered into van Dijk in a freak collision, injuring the Dutchman’s anterior cruciate ligaments, and has since been the target of online abuse and widespread criticism from fans and pundits alike.
But Ancelotti has no doubt Pickford will be in the right mindset when Sunday’s game kicks off, saying:
“I don’t take into consideration taking him out [of the team]. He was focused on the game [versus Liverpool], as the other team-mates were. I think he is going to play on Sunday.”
Despite Everton leading the way with 13 points from their five league games so far, Ancelotti is expecting a tough test from Southampton, who have won twice and drawn once since losing their opening two matches.
The Saints were unfortunate not to leave Goodison Park with all three points in July’s 1-1 draw, and the Blues boss knows Everton will have to perform to their maximum to claim another win:
“It will be a tough game. Southampton are playing with high intensity [and are] really well-organised. We played them here at Goodison and had a lot of difficulties in that game. They played really well against Chelsea [3-3 away draw last Saturday].
“It’s a team that, to win against, you have to be at 100 per cent. I would like to be at 100 per cent because our target is to try to win.”