Everton have landed a huge boost entering the international break after James Rodriguez revealed that he expects to be fit to face Crystal Palace.
Rodriguez has missed the Toffees’ last four Premier League games, plus the FA Cup quarter-final loss to Manchester City, as a result of the issue which developed in February’s meetings with Manchester United and Liverpool.
Carlo Ancelotti revealed ahead of this month’s clash with Burnley that Rodriguez had been absent from fixtures with Southampton, West Bromwich Albion and Chelsea after feeling a tightness in his calf that the Italian tactician was reticent to risk worsening.
Rodriguez had registered his first assist in 13 Premier League games when he created Richarlison’s go-ahead goal during the Merseyside derby, while striking his fifth English top-flight goal at Old Trafford two weeks earlier.
The £27m-rated playmaker now intends to add his first minutes since playing the opening hour at Anfield when Everton host Crystal Palace.
“I’ll play again in the next game, April 3, I think [vs the Eagles on April 5]. I’m very well thank God and I want to play again,” Rodriguez said.
Ancelotti had voiced hope of having Rodriguez back for the Selhurst Park natives’ trip to Goodison Park when addressing the state of his squad for the FA Cup tie with Manchester City.
“James is out but he will start to train with the team next week,” the 61-year-old said on Friday, before adding: “In the international break, we have time to recover some players. James is one of those and maybe Jean-Philippe Gbamin.”
Rodriguez now noting that he expects to be fit to face Crystal Palace at the start of next month will surely excite Ancelotti, having seen the 29-year-old rediscover his wavering form against two of the Premier League’s elite sides in Manchester United and Liverpool.
The Colombian had been struggling to offer anywhere near the same creativity that saw him register three goals and three assists in his first five games in the Premier League, as injuries began to creep in here and there.
However, Rodriguez had the telling touch to set the tone against Liverpool when playing Richarlison through to score, while finding the back of the net against Manchester United to round out an initial comeback from two goals down before leaving the field through injury.
Ancelotti would have wished he had Rodriguez at least on the bench as Everton lost 2-1 at home to Burnley recently, knowing the game-changing impact he can bring that also broke the deadlock against Leicester City in a 1-1 draw in January.
That impact will have to wait until Crystal Palace’s trip to Merseyside at the earliest, but a refreshed Rodriguez can have a big say in the Toffees’ push for European football.