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Ancelotti coy on goalkeeping situation

The Everton manager would not say whether he plans to start Jordan Pickford or Robin Olsen in tomorrow’s game against Newcastle

Everton Training Session
Pickford may be dropped for Olsen for tomorrow’s game against Newcastle
Photo by Tony McArdle/Everton FC via Getty Images

Carlo Ancelotti refused to reveal whether he would drop Jordan Pickford for Everton’s home game against Newcastle United tomorrow.

Pickford, a boyhood Sunderland fan and former Black Cats goalkeeper, was replaced by Robin Olsen for November’s reverse fixture against Newcastle, which Everton lost 2-1.

And despite an improved recent run, Pickford’s mistake gifted Leicester’s Youri Tielemans an equaliser in Wednesday’s 1-1 draw at Goodison Park.

Speaking at his pre-match press conference, Ancelotti feels Olsen’s summer arrival on loan from Roma has benefited Pickford, but would not say who would start in goal tomorrow:

“I’m not in the habit of giving out the line-up during the press conference.

“Pickford didn’t play against Newcastle for normal rotation that I am used to doing in this period. We have a lot of games; we have to play tomorrow, next Wed, next weekend, so Jordan will be rotated like the other players.

“I don’t know [if Pickford starts tomorrow]. I have to think about this.

“He made a mistake - I think we can say this - but this doesn’t change, for me or his team mates, the confidence we have in him. He made fantastic saves in the past and if the team is solid, it’s also solid because Pickford was better in the last period than before. There is no doubting his quality and motivation.

“I think there is good competition there, and I think the signing of Olsen helped him to be more motivated and also to have less pressure.”

Ancelotti added Everton will definitely still be without a trio of midfielders in Allan, Fabian Delph and Jean-Philippe Gbamin for tomorrow’s game.

The manager confirmed that Delph is back in training from an injury sustained in the draw at Burnley on December 5, while Allan and Gbamin are close to returning from their respective hamstring and Achilles injuries:

“Allan and Delph are not available for selection. We also have Gbamin out. The others are OK; no problem after the game against Leicester.

“Delph has started to train with the team this week, and after the game against Newcastle, I think Allan will start next week. We also hope Gbamin can start to train with us next week.”

Everton face a Newcastle side in dire form tomorrow, having not won in their last 11 matches in all competitions, scoring just five goals in that time.

But Ancelotti urged his side not to underestimate Steve Bruce’s men, who he believes will come to Goodison looking to prove a point after such a dreadful spell of results:

“I think it’s an important game for both teams for different reasons. For us, it’s really important because we have a possibility to go up in the table, and it can be good motivation for the second part of the season. Newcastle is the same; they have difficulties in this moment, and they will come here with all their energy and motivation.

“We have to pay attention to this game, because every game in the Premier League is really, really difficult and unpredictable. It will be a difficult game as usual. I have not found easy games in this season, or seasons before. It can be an easy game after, but not before.

“I have a lot of sympathy for Steve [Bruce] as a man. I like him and his attitude. He’s a good manager. He’s under pressure, but who is not?! We are all under pressure, all the time. Steve has the experience and knowledge to move quickly from this situation.”

Ahead of Monday’s transfer deadline, Ancelotti was also asked if there was an update on the futures of Bernard, Cenk Tosun, Anthony Gordon and Jonjoe Kenny.

All have been linked with loan moves away from Goodison, but the Everton boss had nothing to report on these matters, simply saying:

“Unfortunately I can’t say anything new about this.”