Carlo Ancelotti has said Everton could soon welcome back midfielder Jean-Philippe Gbamin as the Ivorian nears the end of his rehabilitation from long-term injury.
Gbamin, a £25 million signing last summer, has not played for Everton since August 2019, due initially to a hamstring injury and then to a rupture to his Achilles tendon.
But Ancelotti said at his pre-match press conference ahead of Sunday’s trip to Fulham that Gbamin, 25, is now not far away from being available for selection again:
“Gbamin is in the last part of his recovery. I think he will be ready to train and play in two or three weeks.
“We have [Seamus] Coleman unavailable in this game. The others are in a good condition. [Delph, Allan and Richarlison] are all fit.”
News of a fresh setback for Seamus Coleman will hardly come as a shock after the Irishman pulled out of international duty last week, due to a recurrence of the hamstring issue he picked up earlier in the campaign.
On a positive note, though, Ancelotti said his side’s South American contingent of Allan, Richarlison, Yerry Mina and James Rodriguez have all returned in good condition, if a little tired:
“The players from South America came back yesterday. They were OK; they were tested negative [for COVID-19] from their travels, so everything is OK.
“They trained today; it seems they don’t have problems. They seem a bit tired, but we have time for recovery until Sunday.”
Everton have Richarlison back after serving the entirety of his three-match suspension for his card in last month’s Merseyside derby; a trio of games of which Everton lost all three.
But ahead of Sunday’s trip to a struggling if improving Fulham, Ancelotti refused to pinpoint Richarlison’s absence as the sole reason why Everton lost to Southampton, Newcastle and Manchester United.
The Italian did admit what a crucial player Richarlison is, though, and believes he has everything to reach the top in world football:
“We didn’t lose because Richarlison wasn’t there. If he was a defender, I could say: ‘OK, we lost power in defence’, but he is a striker, and the problem that we had was that we didn’t defend properly in the last three games.
“But of course, Richarlison is an important player for us. He’s a top player. It’s important to have him fit for this period. He has everything.
“Richarlison can reach the top level in football; in my opinion, he has all the skills necessary to be at the top. He’s still young. but he’s a humble guy and very professional. I think he can be at the top soon.”
Ancelotti also gave his thoughts on the possible change back to allowing five substitutes in Premier League games instead of three, after several managers complained of burnout during a hectic, compressed schedule.
Premier League clubs have twice voted against returning to five substitutes, which was used during Project Restart in June and July.
And though Ancelotti said he feels it won’t make a world of difference, he believes anything that will even be a slight help to players is worth considering:
“I think for the welfare of the players, it doesn’t change a lot to have three or five, because if you want to rest a player, you don’t have to put him on the pitch in the beginning.
“But if five substitutions helps just a little for the welfare of the players, it could be good, in my opinion. I think that, in this moment, nobody takes care of the welfare of the players. The fixtures are really busy. Anything we do, or FIFA or UEFA do, will be important.”