Everton have been gifted a huge boost ahead of Sunday’s Premier League meeting with Fulham as Carlo Ancelotti has confirmed that James Rodriguez will be fit to feature.
The Colombian maestro was forced to sit out his side’s FA Cup fifth round win over Tottenham Hotspur on Wednesday night due to a tight calf.
Rodriguez sustained the issue during last weekend’s 3-3 draw with Manchester United, where the 29-year-old had scored Everton’s second for his fifth goal of the season.
Ancelotti withdrew Rodriguez from the action at Old Trafford midway through the second half as a precaution, having seen the midfielder fail to shake the issue following the break.
Everton had hoped to see the former Real Madrid playmaker feature in midweek, but will now be able to call on Rodriguez when Scott Parker’s Fulham visit Goodison Park.
But the injury picture at Goodison Park is not ideal, with Ancelotti adding that Dominic Calvert-Lewin and Jordan Pickford will be missing.
“Both [Calvert-Lewin and Pickford] will not be available for the game on Sunday. We are looking for the next game on Wednesday where we think both of them will be available,” Ancelotti said on Friday.
“We have back Andre Gomes, James, Josh King, and in the next week we think Allan will be back, so the squad is ready for the next games.
“James is fine. He trained yesterday and today and is available for the game on Sunday. No problem.”
Having Rodriguez back available for selection on Sunday will come as a huge boost for Ancelotti, as only top-scorer Calvert-Lewin (18) and Richarlison (8) have scored more often for Everton than the Colombian (5) has across all competitions this season.
Only Gylfi Sigurdsson (7) has provided as many or more assists than Rodriguez (7), too, but may now find himself undeservingly axed from the starting line-up to make way for the 29-year-old’s return.
Sigurdsson more than held his own in the role against Tottenham in midweek, with the £16m-rated Iceland international directly involved in four of the Blues’ five goals.
The ex-Swansea City creator provided the assist for Calvert-Lewin’s initial equaliser before scoring to put Everton 3-1 ahead, and later playing the pass through for Richarlison and Bernard to strike go ahead goals after Spurs mustered a comeback.
But Ancelotti may not feel there is room in the side for both Sigurdsson and Rodriguez, who has only failed to start one of his last eight Premier League appearances in a central role.