James Rodriguez has been withdrawn from the Colombia squad and will miss the Copa America as he not as the “optimal level” of fitness.
James missed Everton’s last two matches of the season with a calf issue that has dogged his first season on Merseyside, but flew to Colombia last week to first meet with his family before linking up with the national side.
However, after being assessed by the Colombia medical team he has been deemed not fit enough to compete for Los Cafeteros and subsequently taken out of the squad.
A Colombia statement read:
“The coaching staff of the Colombia Men’s Senior Team reports that the player James Rodríguez has been called off for the games against Peru and Argentina for the qualifiers for the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022, and the CONMEBOL Copa America 2021.
“In recent days, the midfielder was subjected to medical examinations, which determined that he is not at the optimal level of competition, therefore, he will not be able to join the group called by Reinaldo Rueda for the aforementioned commitments and the South American championship.
“The coach and his team of collaborators regret not being able to count on James Rodríguez this time and hope that soon the midfielder will be able to be part of a call, representing our country with the height and professionalism as he has always done.”
James subsequently released a statement through his social media channels expressing his deep disappointment at missing out on representing his country and hinting that he disagreed with the decision.
The 29-year-old said he was in the “final part” of his recovery and that he was on course to “fully integrate” with the squad in time for the start of the Copa America on June 13.
“I am surprised at the statement from the coaching staff, which states that they do not count on me and wish me a full recovery, a recovery I have already made and in which I have sacrificed a lot.
“The above fills me with deep disappointment, because it means everything to play for my country. “Not receiving the trust from the technical body breaks with everything and causes me enormous pain, since for the shirt of the Colombia team I have always left even my life.
“For my teammates the best energy and best wishes. From a distance I will support with the passion as always.”
What James injury means for Everton
On the face of it James spending the summer recuperating instead of playing a major international tournament is good news for Everton, even if it obviously a crushing blow for James himself, who has never hidden the pride he takes in representing his country.
The forward’s class is evident, but we did not see it enough during the 2020-21 season thanks to a series of niggling injuries. The chance to rest up and maybe get to the bottom of his calf issue can only benefit the Toffees.
However, it does suggest the injury is a lot more serious than first thought, which must be of a concern. Let’s face it if James did not suffer from fitness issues he would not be playing for Everton so we have to accept it is something that comes with the territory - as long as it does not develop into something really serious.
Let’s hope James can take advantage of this unexpected break and return to Finch Farm clear of injury and in a position to play a fuller part in the next campaign. As boy do we miss his creativity when he isn’t there.