Carlo Ancelotti cut a worried figure last night as he trudged off the Goodison Park pitch despite an ultimately comfortable Everton win over League Two Salford City in the Second Round of the Carabao Cup.
The Blues left it late to pepper the Ammies goal in a 3-0 victory that will see them travel to League One Fleetwood Town next Wednesday, and had a number of encouraging performances from fringe players, but the manager’s concern remains with injuries.
Mason Holgate suffered a toe injury in the Toffees preseason game against Preston North End, but that appears to have become a bigger concern with the manager saying earlier in the week that he expected the defender to be out for anywhere from eight to twelve weeks.
Then yesterday he watched on as youngster Jarrad Branthwaite, who has come on in leaps and bounds since his debut during the resumption of football over the summer, looked to have turned his ankle making an innocuous clearance and limped off. Speaking after the game, Ancelotti said of the youngster and Holgate -
“We will see tomorrow, I hope it will be nothing bad. Holgate is out and Jarrad we don’t know his injury and how bad it is, we have to look tomorrow.
“The Holgate update is that he doesn’t need the surgery so maybe he can recover earlier than normal but I think we can manage until Mason comes back with three [senior] centre-backs no problem.”
When pressed if the Blues would look to address the deficiency at the position with the transfer window closing in a matter of weeks, Ancelotti indicated the Blues would be looking around, but did not openly admit that Chelsea youngster Fikayo Tomori was a target.
“There is a possibility to find a centre-back and I think we have to do so.
“I am not talking about players that are not here.”
The Blues finished last season with only four first team central defenders, but are now down to just Michael Keane and Yerry Mina for the foreseeable future, make that three if you add youngster Lewis Gibson.
Needless to say, the current injury situation will likely change Marcel Brands’ plans for loaning out Branthwaite and Gibson, as well as if they are planning to bring in another defender during this transfer window.