Carlo Ancelotti has said Everton will be without James Rodriguez for their match at Newcastle on Sunday afternoon.
Rodriguez was a doubt for last week’s defeat at Southampton yet played the entirety of the match, but the Blues boss said the Colombian needs time to recover from a sensitive injury sustained in the previous weekend’s Merseyside derby, as does Seamus Coleman.
But speaking at his pre-match press conference, the Italian said Everton could welcome back two longer-term absentees in right-back Jonjoe Kenny and centre-half Jarrad Branthwaite:
“We have Jonjoe Kenny and Jarrad Branthwaite back. James Rodriguez and Seamus Coleman will not be available, and Lucas Digne and Richarlison are suspended.
“[Rodriguez] played all of the game [against Southampton] and had a little problem. He needs to rest for this game. I think he’ll be available for the next game [against Manchester United next Saturday].”
For the first time this season, Ancelotti will see how his Everton side react to a defeat, after their unbeaten start to the campaign came to an abrupt end in a tame 2-0 loss at St Mary’s.
Despite the setback, Everton remain top of the early Premier League table, and Ancelotti is expecting a response from his side in what he knows will be a tough examination away to Newcastle:
“It was not a good day against Southampton [but] I think we have moved forward, and we are preparing well for this game. It’s important.
“We want to stay at the top of the table. We know that to play against Newcastle is always difficult. They had good results in the last few games, but we are focused. The spirit is good and we have confidence for the game.”
Newcastle have had an inconsistent start to the season, having won, drawn and lost two games each of their six league matches so far.
And while Ancelotti was impressed by their resilience in their 1-1 draw at Wolves last weekend, he insists Everton’s main focus is on themselves, not Newcastle:
“We have to be focused on the opponent, of course, because we have to try to find their weaknesses, but we have to be focused on ourselves most of the time.
“We are preparing in this game to try to avoid the mistakes we made against Southampton; that’s it. After that, [we] take into consideration the fact that in their last game, Newcastle played really well, were really strong defensively and were really well-organised.
“We have to take care of this, but more focus is on ourselves.”