Carlo Ancelotti has confirmed that Lucas Digne and Alex Iwobi will both be available for Everton’s midweek clash with Leicester City.
The Toffees duo were among a clutch of players to sit out the FA Cup fourth round win over Sheffield Wednesday on Saturday but were expected to be passed fit to face the Foxes.
They will now return to the fold for the visit of Brendan Rodgers’ side to Goodison Park on Wednesday night, as Everton look to move back inside the top-four of the Premier League table with a win.
Everton trail Leicester by six points in the race for Champions League qualification yet hold two games in hand over the East Midlands outfit, after meetings with Manchester City and Aston Villa were postponed due to coronavirus outbreaks in the opposition camps.
Ancelotti will be without a group of his midfield options for the Foxes affair, with the Italian noting that Allan, Fabian Delph and Jean-Philippe Gbamin continue to be ruled out through injury.
Abdoulaye Doucoure will also be absent after picking up his fifth yellow card of the season in this month’s 2-1 win at Wolverhampton Wanderers.
“We have Digne and Iwobi back, and we have out Delph, Allan, Gbamin and [Niels] Nkounkou. The others are all good,” said Ancelotti.
“We don’t have a lot of injuries at this moment because Delph has started to train with us, so practically he is back. We have only Allan, Gbamin and Nkounkou that can recover soon.”
Iwobi scored his first goal of the Premier League season during the 2-1 win at Wolves but faces a challenge to start against Leicester, with James Rodriguez fresh off a Man of the Match showing at home to Sheffield Wednesday in the FA Cup.
Everton will be boosted greatly by the return of Digne, who will now be expected to return to the starting line-up for only the 10th time in the league this season. But the Frenchman’s availability will likely not leave Ben Godfrey feeling the same way.
Godfrey stood in for Digne at left-back in the FA Cup and fared well with his physical nature enough to stand strong in the face of regular defensive duties, yet will find his place in the XI is now under threat.
Ancelotti saw Mason Holgate and Yerry Mina command the centre of the Blues’ backline against Sheffield Wednesday, with Holgate looking the real leader of the unit in the absence of Michael Keane whilst the England international was rested.
The decision on who faces Leicester will be between the trio of Holgate, Mina and Keane, and not Godfrey – who former Toffees striker Kevin Campbell lauded as an “excellent” and versatile option for his impressive efforts while Digne was sidelined after ankle surgery.
Only Rodriguez (2.3) has created more goal-scoring opportunities for Everton per game than Digne (1.9) in the Premier League this season, while Godfrey is yet to record a single key pass when fielded at full-back, per WhoScored.
Godfrey also offers fewer tackles (1.5/2.0) than Digne (1.9/3.4) when selected as the wide defender, and rarely attempts to carry possession out from the back nearly as much with 0.3 dribbles attempted a game to the Frenchman’s 0.8. Thus forcing Ancelotti to look elsewhere for a driving presence on the left-hand channel that can support Richarlison but get back to defend.