Carlo Ancelotti confirmed Richarlison has completed his recovery from concussion is available to face West Ham on Friday, but James Rodriguez will not feature.
Richarlison missed Everton’s Boxing Day win at Sheffield United after suffering a clash of heads in last week’s EFL Cup loss to Manchester United, but is ready to play again in the New Year’s Day visit of the Hammers.
But, speaking at his pre-match press conference, Ancelotti said the game will come too soon for Rodriguez, who has not played since December 5 but who the Italian hopes to have back for the FA Cup tie with Rotherham on January 9:
“One of them is OK. The other one, unfortunately not. We have to wait a little bit. Richarlison will be OK; James, no.
“For James, we have to look day by day. Unfortunately, he’s not ready yet. It’s taking a little bit longer, so I hope that for the next game [against Rotherham], he will be ready.”
Ancelotti also gave a positive update on the fitness of injured duo Allan and Lucas Digne, who have not played since December 16 and November 22 respectively.
Allan suffered a hamstring injury in the 2-0 win at Leicester City, while an ankle problem has kept Digne out of action for the entirety of December, but Ancelotti revealed both are back in individual training:
“Allan is doing individual sessions. I think that at least around the end of January, he will be ready.
“We have good news from Lucas Digne - he’s starting individual session and within one week or ten days, he’ll be able to train with the team.”
After a second four-game winning streak of the season, Ancelotti admitted confidence is high in the Everton camp, especially on the back of three clean sheets in that run of games.
But he is not underestimating the challenge of facing West Ham United, who he was impressed by in their 0-0 draw at Southampton on Tuesday:
“The last game increased our consistency, also defensively. We were strong, solid, but every game has its own story.
“I saw West Ham play last night; they are a consistent, solid team, and it will be a difficult game as usual. I have not found an easy game yet - every game is a battle in the Premier League.”
Ancelotti was also asked on his thoughts about the decision to postpone Everton’s home game against Manchester City on Monday just four hours before kick-off.
The move was due to a further outbreak of COVID-19 among the City squad, which supposedly was made without consulting Everton first, but Ancelotti accepted the seriousness of the situation and has moved on already.
He also felt that the extra break in the schedule that it gave Everton could work in their favour against West Ham, who played their third game in eight days on Tuesday at Southampton:
“Everyone was disappointed we didn’t play the game, also Manchester City. Unfortunately, they had problems and the Premier League decided to postpone the game. We followed the decision and we move forward to the next game.
“We didn’t receive further information yet but I think soon we are going to have this. The announcement was only four hours [before kick-off], we were at the hotel, but I think it doesn’t matter. The situation was quite clear. We move forward.
“The fact that we didn’t play against City means we can have fresh legs against West Ham. For that reason, it can be an advantage. The preparation for the game was good; we still have days. I hope that we are ready.”
Given the rising number of COVID-19 cases in the last week, which has led to postponements of matches at all levels of English football, talk has arisen about a possible two-week suspension.
But while Ancelotti urged people to follow guidelines set in place to counteract the spread of the coronavirus, he felt not best-placed to say whether a break in the football calendar would be beneficial:
“It’s a difficult moment for the country. We have to take care of this. We have to follow the protocols. I think not all people are following the protocols, not all people wear masks, not all people take social distancing. First of all, we have to follow this.
“I’m not in the right position to decide if we have to play or not. I think the fact that football is being played at the moment is good for people because, unfortunately, a lot of supporters have to stay at home. To have matches on TV, I think, is good.
“The protocol that the Premier League put in place is a really good protocol. We feel safe in our bubble, but outside I have to pay attention like all people. I was surprised yesterday; I was walking and not a lot of people wear the masks. This moment is a really particular moment.”