Carlo Ancelotti must stick with Joao Virginia in goal against Crystal Palace on Monday night amid doubts over the long-term Everton future of AS Roma loanee Robin Olsen.
Ancelotti confirmed on Friday that Olsen will be in contention for a recall when action resumes at Goodison Park against the Eagles, although Pickford remains in the treatment room.
Pickford missed Everton’s FA Cup quarter-final loss to Manchester City last month after aggravating a prior abdominal issue in the 2-1 defeat to Sean Dyche’s Clarets, which had sidelined the 27-year-old for four games across all competitions.
However, Ancelotti is confident that Pickford will be able to return from his latest issue soon, despite reports that the England number one is ‘terrified’ that any further setbacks could impact his chances of featuring at Euro 2020.
“Jordan Pickford is not available, but Robin Olsen will be okay. I’m not sure how long it will be before Jordan is ready to play again,” Ancelotti said on Friday.
“He’s improving day-by-day, but he still hasn’t worked on the pitch. Maybe he will start next week to train on the pitch with the goalkeeper coach.
“We are well covered in goal with three good keepers.
“Joao Virginia did really well [against Burnley and Manchester City] and, of course, we hope Jordan is going to recover soon because we need him until the end of the season.”
With Ancelotti again voicing his delight at Virginia’s performances against Burnley and Manchester City, which were just his second and third senior Everton appearances, the Italian should be comfortable with backing the Portugal under-21 international at home to Crystal Palace despite Olsen’s return from injury.
The Blues manager stated following the FA Cup defeat to Pep Guardiola’s side that Virginia “deserves the compliments” that were flowing his way, having produced a number of excellent saves which kept the Merseysiders in the game.
“Joao did really well. He showed his quality,” Ancelotti said, via quotes shared by the Liverpool Echo. “He has not the experience but the quality and personality he has shown in training. And so, I think he deserves the compliments because he did really well.”
Virginia pulled off a magnificent effort to deny Raheem Sterling by tipping the winger’s shot wide of the post and later denied Aymeric Laporte, but he was unable to prevent Ilkay Gundogan from firing home the rebound.
The Everton academy graduate will no doubt have taken a great sense of pride in his performance and will be itching for further first team minutes to continue his development and establish his place firmly among Ancelotti’s squad.
That chance should be on offer against Crystal Palace despite Olsen’s return from injury, with the Roma loanee’s Goodison Park future up in the air following reports that he wants to leave after a break-in at his home last month.
Ancelotti had expected to hold talks with Roma over a permanent deal for the Swede at the end of the season, but it remains to be seen if the discussions will still take place.
Virginia potentially has a spot to secure and Palace represents his latest chance to grab it with both hands, given Pickford’s uncertain schedule.