Carlo Ancelotti will be desperate for updates on Robin Olsen’s fitness after goalkeeper Jordan Pickford was ruled out of Everton’s FA Cup quarter-final tie with Manchester City.
The Toffees have confirmed that Pickford will not be able to face Pep Guardiola’s Citizens on Saturday after aggravating an oblique abdominal muscle injury during last week’s 2-1 defeat to Burnley.
Pickford will now miss at least his side’s FA Cup encounter, plus England’s three March internationals against San Marino, Albania and Poland following scans carried out on Monday.
Ancelotti was forced to withdraw Pickford shortly before half-time during Saturday’s loss to Burnley, as the 27-year-old was unable to continue after irritating a prior rib injury that forced him to miss four games last month.
Academy shot-stopper Joao Virginia replaced Pickford for his Premier League debut and could now earn only his second Everton start in all competitions against Manchester City, with doubts lingering over Olsen’s fitness.
But, according to the Liverpool Echo, Olsen has not yet given up hope of guarding the goal against the Citizens on Saturday, as the AS Roma loanee hopes to overcome his own fitness concerns in time.
Olsen has been sidelined since last month’s Merseyside derby win away to rivals Liverpool with an unspecified injury, which has forced the 31-year-old to be absent from Ancelotti’s past four Premier League matchday squads.
The 42-cap Sweden international played no role in the 2-0 win at Anfield or previous 3-1 loss to Manchester City, but has kept two clean sheets in his nine outings across all competitions this term and has played all 330 minutes of Everton’s FA Cup campaign to date.
Ancelotti will be desperate to get word on whether or not Olsen will be passed fit in time to face Manchester City on Saturday, with Virginia otherwise his sole option for the FA Cup tie.
Virginia’s only previous first-team appearance for the Toffees, prior to replacing Pickford against Burnley, had come in the Carabao Cup in September when he kept a clean sheet at home to Salford City during a 3-0 win over the League Two side.
The 21-year-old was able to register a second shutout against the Clarets over the weekend, but the Portuguese prospect almost conceded after fumbling Chris Wood’s header to leave Matej Vydra with an open goal only for the forward to waste the opportunity.
Virginia felt his top-flight bow went well, overall, having kept to Ancelotti’s instructions of keeping things simple.
“The manager and Alan [Kelly, the goalkeeping coach] told me to be confident and keep it simple and let the game come to me,” Virginia said. “That’s what I did. I waited for the game to come to me, and everything went well.”
But Ancelotti may favour a recall for Olsen if the on-loan ‘keeper is considered fit enough to start, having previously stated how he and Pickford are no better or worse than one another.
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