Carlo Ancelotti has landed a welcome boost after Iceland confirmed that Everton midfielder Gylfi Sigurdsson will sit out the March international break.
Sigurdsson has been given permission to miss his country’s World Cup qualifiers with Germany, Armenia and Liechtenstein as he and his wife are expecting their first child.
Sigurdsson had played the full 90 minutes in four of Iceland’s last five international fixtures, only missing November’s 4-0 defeat to England when omitted from the matchday group at Wembley.
Ancelotti has frequently called on Sigurdsson to play a role in Everton’s push for European football, with the £13.5m-rated maestro only failing to feature in one of his side’s last 23 fixtures across all competitions.
The sole game that the former Swansea City playmaker failed to feature in at any stage came in the Toffees’ 2-1 defeat at home to Burnley this month, having sustained an ankle knock during the defeat to Chelsea earlier that week.
Sigurdsson returned to the Blues’ starting line-up for Saturday’s FA Cup quarter-final loss to Manchester City at Goodison Park, after resuming training in the days preceding the tie.
He is now set for a period of rest after withdrawing from the Iceland squad, which will come as a welcome boost for Ancelotti and Everton ahead of hosting Crystal Palace on April 5th.
The Toffees have a tough April on the schedule, with the Eagles’ visit to Merseyside followed by a trip to relegation-threatened Brighton & Hove Albion and clashes with European contenders Tottenham Hotspur and Arsenal.
Ancelotti will no doubt be glad to hear that Sigurdsson will not be joining the Iceland squad for their three World Cup qualifiers in the space of six days, as the break in fixtures will allow the 78-cap international a chance to rest his ankle and recharge the batteries.
Sigurdsson has occupied a key role in the Italian’s plans for much of the campaign, with minutes given in all but two Premier League games, and will be expected to remain a pivotal presence at Goodison Park in the final months of the season.
Only Lucas Digne has provided more assists (6) in the top-flight this term than Sigurdsson (4), too, while the £100,000-per-week midfielder additionally ranks third behind the Frenchman (1.5) and James Rodriguez (1.7) for average key passes a game (1.1), per WhoScored.
Ancelotti hopes to have the Colombian back for Crystal Palace’s trip to Goodison Park, though it remains to be seen if the ex-Real Madrid star will be passed fit.
“James is out but he will start to train with the team next week,” Ancelotti said last Friday.
“In the international break, we have time to recover some players. James is one of those and maybe [Jean-Philippe] Gbamin.”
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