Everton travel to Crystal Palace tomorrow in a battle of two teams that both started with two wins. Speaking ahead of the game, manager Caro Ancelotti answered a broad range of questions including transfer updates on the Blues apparent search for a goalkeeper, and where the efforts currently stand with bringing in another central defender.
As far as the squad goes, there have been no new injuries after last weekend’s game against West Bromwich Albion and then Wednesday’s trip to Fleetwood Town.
“We have all the squad fit apart from Holgate & Branthwaite. The others are all fit and available.”
He added that Saturday’s hattrick hero Dominic Calvert-Lewin had a minor issue but has recovered - the striker had a massive ice-pack strapped to his hamstring at Goodison when he was pulled off late in the game, and then withdrawn at the half with the Blues leading 2-0 at Fleetwood.
“He had a little problem (hamstring) in the game vs Fleetwood but he is okay and will play.”
When asked about the impact of James Rodriguez on his top striker, Ancelotti continued to sing praises of the 23-year-old.
“The player is motivated to improve. We are trying to help him. Most of the job he already did because he’s a really good player. He has a possibility to improve his matches, his quality. But he has the quality & where he can improve is in consistency.
“With James in Madrid, Ronaldo scored 56 goals. I’m honestly not going to ask Dominic to score 56 but he has to try to do his best.”
What would that target be then?
“I hope he can reach the target of 20 goals. Behind them we have James, Andre Gomes, Gylfi Sigurdsson. Our strikers have to be happy. Bernard, also, an assist man. They are comfortable. I think if he and Richarlison don’t score at least 20 goals each, they have a problem with me!”
On Rodriguez, who has settled in very quickly, and if he would eventually play as a #10.
“In this moment, he’s not playing as a #10, but he has of course the quality to play #10.
“In football nowadays there are not the classical positions, where there was a #10, where there was a holding midfielder, where there was a winger. Now players have to be able to do different things and play in different positions of the pitch.
“James is playing on the right side but not as a winger because he likes to come inside, and I want that, for him to come inside to use his ability in the middle of the pitch.”
Fabian Delph looked good midweek, with the veteran midfielder returning from a nearly six month layoff to lay on a couple of pinpoint passes, one of which lead to Richarlison’s second goal.
“After he was out for a long time, he recovered well and properly. He played 60 minutes, really well. I want to give him more training sessions to be ready to play in the Premier League.
“He will not travel with the team today, I prefer to keep him here to train and be ready for the game against West Ham United (next Wednesday, in the Fourth Round of the Carabao Cup).”
Young fullback Niels Nkounkou has been turning heads after two strong performances now
“He did well. He has surprised most of the people because most of the people didn’t know him.
"The next step will be to have a test in the Premier League games. Next Wednesday we play versus a Premier League team so could be a good test for him.”