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Carlo Ancelotti on Andre Gomes, improving Arsenal, defending Pickford and the race for Europe

The Italian gave a wide and varied press conference ahead of Sunday’s clash with the Gunners

Everton FC v Crystal Palace - Premier League Photo by Michael Regan/Getty Images

Carlo Ancelotti says Andre Gomes is fit and ready to play as he prepares to complete a remarkable injury comeback against Arsenal on Sunday.

The Portugal midfielder came through last weekend’s practise game unscathed and has trained as normal this week, meaning he is in contention to play at Emirates Stadium just 112 days after suffering that horrific ankle dislocation against Tottenham.

It is a remarkable recovery given the severity of the injury, with many suspecting the former Barcelona man would miss the rest of the season at least.

Everton First Team Training Session Photo by Tony McArdle/Everton FC via Getty Images

It means Jean-Philippe Gbamin is Everton’s only long-term absentee, with Bernard passed fit and Fabian Delph available after suspension. Theo Walcott, though, is a doubt to face his former club.

Ancelotti suggested that it was the quick reaction of the Everton medical team on the pitch when Gomes initially suffered the injury that proved crucial in his rapid recovery.

“Andre is available to play. He trained well, with confidence and without problems. Before the game we are going to talk together and decide if he will star the game or go on he bench.

“Knowing the people that are working here in the medical department I am not surprised (about his quick recovery).

“The most important part was that they were able to do was on the pitch when he had the injury, that was the key part of his recovery.”

A run of just one defeat in 11 games since Marco Silva’s dismissal has banished any fears of a relegation battle and revived hopes of qualifying for Europe.

Manchester City’s European ban (if upheld on appeal) has even opened the door to the Champions League, with Everton currently just four points off fifth place.

Their good form is going to be sorely tested in the coming weeks, though, with Manchester United, Chelsea and Liverpool lying in wait after Sunday’s game.

Ancelotti says only after those games can you assess their chances of reaching Europe.

“We have to focus on Arsenal. There are very important games after Arsenal, Chelsea, United, Liverpool.

“After these four games we can see what’s going on for Europe. This is a really important game against a strong team, away, but we need to have confidence to do our best to try and win.

“Arsenal have improved a lot, they are playing better. But the spirit of the team is good and we have confidence.”

One player who has really benefitted from Ancelotti’s arrival is Dominic Calvert-Lewin. The 22-year-old has scored six goals in the Italian’s nine games in charge to put forward a case for an England call-up.

“I don’t want to give recommendations to Gareth Southgate, I want to give recommendations to Dominic, to keep going, to try and improve.

“He can do well but he can do better, he knows this. Him and Richarlison did a fantastic job until now, they are really dangerous and this is what we ask of them.”

Ancelotti’s also defended Jordan Pickford after he came in for criticism for his recent performances.

“To be England’s number one is a responsibility, he is the best English goalkeeper in my opinion.

“I’m not afraid about the critics. The game against Crystal Palace he made a mistake but he also made a fantastic save.

“Unfortunately you can make a mistake but you need to have the personality to move on quickly. He did and also for this reason he is the goalkeeper of the national team.”

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Calvert-Lewin and Tom Davies certainly made the most of the recent winter break, heading off to New York Fashion Week and wearing some, er, interesting, outfits.

They have even earned some admiring glances from Carlo, who wants to join in next time.

“I said next time I want to come.

“I am old style, but sometimes it is good to new new style of dress, no?