Everton will go into a key FA Cup quarterfinal clash tomorrow against Manchester City with the unproven Joao Virginia in goal with both Jordan Pickford and Robin Olsen out injured. The pair are expected to be fit after the subsequent international break, but for now the 21-year-old will be tasked with holding the prolific City side at bay for the Blues to move into the semi-finals.
Speaking during his pre-match press conference today, Carlo Ancelotti had some encouraging words for Virginia who came on before halftime in the defeat against Burnley last weekend and held his own in that time.
“No I’m not worried because Joao is young, he is a goalkeeper without experience for this kind of game, but he a lot of quality. He showed his quality against Burnley when he had the opportunity.
“I am not worried for the absence of the two goalkeepers, where I am worried now is that the team has to play like we tried this week [in training]. We tried to play with the right strategy and I hope the team is able to do this.”
Ancelotti tried to maintain a positive note when asked if this was the most important game of his time at Everton so far.
“Yes it is important. It is important because we were able to move on from the game against the Tottenham. I hope this season there will be more important games, where we can play the semi-final or the final, or the games that give us the opportunity to play in Europe.”
James Rodriguez continues to miss more time, though Ancelotti confirmed that he will be returning to training next week.
“James will be available for the game against Crystal Palace [on April 5th] when the Premier League restarts after the break.”
Yerry Mina was on the substitutes bench against Burnley, is he fully recovered?
“His condition is really good. He trained properly today, he is fit 100%. I left him on the bench because after the injury I did not want to take a risk but tomorrow he will be available.”
Abdoulaye Doucoure’s absence in the middle has really impacted Everton and there are concerns that he might not return this season.
“He’s recovering, he’s doing only treatment because he has a fracture in his foot.
“He’s still in a boot and cannot touch the floor. At the moment, we cannot say when he will be back.”