Carlo Ancelotti has said Jean-Philippe Gbamin will not recover from his latest injury in time to play a further part in this campaign, despite encouraging updates this week.
Gbamin sustained a contact knee injury in training last weekend, but while scans revealed he does not require surgery, Ancelotti said he will not play again until next season.
The Ivorian has endured wretched luck since joining Everton in August 2019, and his ten-minute cameo against Crystal Palace last week was his first appearance in 579 days.
But, speaking at his pre-match press conference ahead of tomorrow’s visit of Tottenham, Ancelotti praised Gbamin’s mental resilience:
“The plan for him is to be back at the start of the new season. The news is that he doesn’t need surgery but he has to stay out for at least eight weeks, so this season will be finished for him.
“He’s a strong guy. He has a strong character. He was able to manage the injuries he had last season and at the beginning of this season. He will be stronger after this unlucky situation, and it will help him for his career, for sure.”
Ancelotti did at least confirm that four players who missed Monday’s goalless draw at Brighton are in contention to return to action against Spurs tomorrow.
Jordan Pickford, Allan, André Gomes and Joshua King have all recovered from their respective knocks, but Dominic Calvert-Lewin and Yerry Mina, who was substituted off against Brighton through injury, are not yet ready to return:
“Available for the game are Jordan Pickford, Allan, King and Gomes.
“The next week, we are going to have Calvert-Lewin, Yerry Mina, Fabian Delph and Bernard, and then longer, Gbamin and Abdoulaye Doucouré.”
The recent spate of injuries has really put a spanner in the works for Ancelotti - Everton currently have the longest list of absentees in the Premier League, while they are the only team in the division to have suffered knocks to every senior player this term.
But Ancelotti feels the team facing Tottenham will at least be stronger than the bare-bones outfit which made up his matchday squad at Brighton, adding those four players are not lacking fitness, either:
“We had a lot of injuries in a difficult moment. We were able to manage the absences of Allan, Digne, Richarlison or James sometimes, but to have these kind of injuries all at the same time is more difficult.
“Tomorrow, we will have some players out, but the squad is better. I think we can compete against Tottenham.
“All the teams have this kind of problem in this period, more or less. The fitness of the team in general is good. Against Brighton, physically, we were good. The players who come back after an injury are in a good condition. They don’t need minutes to be fit, they are already fit.”
Spurs have lost to Everton twice already this season, in the league and the FA Cup, and have gone from leading the table in mid-December to sitting seventh currently.
Pressure is growing on Spurs boss José Mourinho, but Ancelotti said this is an occupational hazard for a football manager:
“I think every manager is trying to do his best. This was a special season, we’ve tried to do our best. I’m not able to judge Mourinho’s job. I think the pressure on the manager is absolutely normal. There is no news for this; every manager has to manage the pressure.”
On tomorrow’s match, Ancelotti is anticipating another end-to-end game, not least because both sides are in the race for European qualification.
Yet the Everton manager was keen to stress that this game is no more important than their seven other remaining matches this season, which he feels are equally vital:
“It’s really difficult to say how the game will be. The last game, we played in the FA Cup, the result was 5-4, and I think it will be an open game because they need points and we need points.
“They have fantastic quality up front, so maybe they could score, but we can score also. It’s unpredictable, to say what could happen.
“It’s vital, but all the eight games we have to play are vital because we have to play teams that are fighting for that position. It will be important against Tottenham, but the other games don’t have less importance. We have to get as many points as possible.”