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Benitez confirms goalkeeper signing, latest on James Rodriguez, Moise Kean and Leeds challenge

Rafa has been speaking to the media ahead of Saturday’s trip to Elland Road

Everton Press Conference Photo by Tony McArdle/Everton FC via Getty Images

Rafael Benitez has confirmed Moise Kean is available to return to the squad for Everton’s trip to Leeds after his period of Covid isolation.

The Toffees boss says Kean is the only player who missed last week’s win over Southampton who is likely to return, meaning Ben Godfrey, Jean-Philippe Gbamin and James Rodriguez will miss out.

”There are still some issues with isolating players - it’s not just two or three days, Kean is coming back so we have some new faces but still some problems.”

When asked specifically about James and whether he was still in his plans. Benitez replied:

”Until the 31st August - yes he’s in my plans.

“Hopefully he will be fine for next week and he can carry on with training sessions, and we can see what happens until the end of the transfer window.

“I understand that people want to know everything but the situation is that he is our player until the 31st of August - he was not available last week and he’s not available this week but maybe he will be available next week.”

On the transfer window in general, Benitez said the club was likely to work until the last minute to get players in and out of the club.

“We have until the end of August, the last day and minute, there’s a lot of speculation so we have to keep working with the players that are here.

“If we have new additions that can improve the team and strengthen the squad, I will be happy.”

Benitez also revealed a new signing - goalkeeper Andy Lonergan! The 37-year-old will act as back up with Joao Virginia set to leave on loan and Harry Tyrer injured.

Switching to Saturday’s opponents Leeds, Benitez is wary of the challenge posed by Marcelo Bielsa’s side and the prospect of a full Elland Road for a Premier League game for the first time since 2004.

[Marcelo] Bielsa’s teams are very intense and they work hard and run a lot and we’ll have to manage that to make sure we can match their intensity and try to play well at the same time.

“His teams are very intense, he analyses the game every day - it depends on the players you have at the end though whether you can put the plans in place. He’s doing a great job at Leeds so it will be an interesting challenge for me too.

“The players know the environment of having fans in and what pressure the fans bring but it’s part of the job to enjoy that. It’s better to play in front of fans even if it’s away because it’s another opportunity to show your level so I’m happy with that and so are the players.”