Carlo Ancelotti has confirmed Everton will be without Alex Iwobi against Sheffield Wednesday after ruling a string of players out of the FA Cup fourth round tie.
The Toffees welcome Neil Thompson’s Championship strugglers to Goodison Park on Sunday night looking to reach the fifth round of the competition for the first time in five seasons.
The Owls are 23rd in the second-tier and only four points above basement boys Wycombe Wanderers, though are enjoying their best run of form since September with four wins and a draw across all competitions.
Top-scorer Dominic Calvert-Lewin missed Everton’s third round win over Rotherham United with a hamstring injury but is likely to start against Sheffield Wednesday, after a 12-day break between fixtures gifted the England international a prolonged period of rest.
But Ancelotti had sombre news to share on Iwobi and a crew of his Blues teammates while speaking ahead of Sunday night’s FA Cup showdown.
“We have Dominic available for the game,” the Italian tactician said. “Unfortunately, we have some players out like [Jean-Philippe] Gbamin, Allan, [Fabian] Delph, [Lucas] Digne, Iwobi and [Niels] Nkounkou.
“Iwobi and Digne will be unavailable for only this game – they will be available for the game against Leicester. The other players are in good condition and are ready to play this game and to compete. This competition is really important for us.”
Iwobi scored his second goal of the season in all competitions during Everton’s 2-1 Premier League win at Wolverhampton Wanderers last time out, ending the 24-year-old’s 499-day drought in the top-flight.
Ancelotti ruling Iwobi out of the FA Cup will likely now see the Italian forced to go for broke in hopes of beating Sheffield Wednesday, with the Italian having to rely on players he may have rather seen rested ahead of hosting Leicester City on Wednesday night.
The Foxes affair will be crucial for the Toffees’ hopes of qualifying for the Champions League by the end of the season, with Brendan Rodgers’ side currently third in the Premier League standings but having played two games more than the Goodison Park natives.
But if Ancelotti wishes to prove the FA Cup’s importance, he will now be expected to rely on either James Rodriguez or Richarlison to bring the width and creativity from the right-wing, which saw Iwobi prove to be the true hero of the Blues’ 2-1 win over Wolves earlier this month.
Ancelotti must now back one of the high-earning duo to guide Everton through to the fifth round, even if the former Chelsea boss would rather have kept them both fighting fit ready for the Foxes’ visit.