Carlo Ancelotti is set for an anxious wait as Jordan Pickford will undergo scans on Monday to assess a potential rib injury ahead of Everton’s FA Cup quarter-final tie with Manchester City.
That’s according to the Liverpool Echo (14/3, 15:09), who quote Ancelotti as noting that the England goalkeeper aggravated a previous issue during Saturday’s 2-1 defeat to Burnley.
Pickford was sidelined for three Premier League fixtures and last month’s FA Cup fifth round win over Tottenham Hotspur after sustaining abdominal damage in a collision with the post in January’s 2-0 loss to Newcastle United.
Pickford returned to action to guard Everton’s goal in last month’s 3-1 defeat to Pep Guardiola’s Sky Blues, before keeping clean sheets against Liverpool, Southampton and West Bromwich Albion.
Saturday’s outing at home to Burnley marked Pickford’s 23rd appearance of the Premier League season and 25th in all competitions, but it lasted just 43 minutes before he was forced off and replaced by academy goalkeeper Joao Virginia, who came on for his top-flight debut.
Ancelotti hopes that Pickford will be able to make a quick recovery from the recurrence of his previous rib injury, but cannot yet put a timeframe on his potential return.
“We don’t know. He has exactly the same problem as the month when he was out for two or three games,” the Italian said. “He has a scan on Monday, and we will see after the scan.
“I hope that Jordan can recover soon but we have to see, we have to check.
“It is not going to be a big, big problem because it is the same problem [as before]. It is true he was out for two to three games, but I hope he can recover soon.”
Pickford appeared to aggravate his rib injury midway through the first half of Saturday’s loss to Burnley after diving towards Johann Berg Gudmundsson’s shot, but initially played on, despite looking uncomfortable and in pain.
Though the £23.5m-rated shot-stopper could only continue for a quarter of an hour before being replaced by Virginia, with AS Roma loanee Robin Olsen not in the matchday squad as the Sweden international remains sidelined through injury.
Olsen has not featured in one of Ancelotti’s team sheets since the Merseyside derby when he watched the Toffees’ 2-0 win from the bench, sitting out the following four Premier League games.
Pickford now joining the 31-year-old in the treatment room will surely leave Ancelotti facing an anxious wait for the results of his scans, with Virginia otherwise the Italian tactician’s sole option to feature between the sticks in Saturday’s FA Cup quarter-final with Man City.
Virginia had only played once in the Everton first-team, during a Carabao Cup tie with Salford City before making his top-flight debut over the weekend after an intended season-long loan spell with Championship side Reading last term.
Some Royals supporters shared on social media that they believed it was the right decision to cut short Virginia’s loan spell as he was far from ready for senior action, whilst his move to the Madejski Stadium was described as a ‘disastrous spell’ by Berkshire Live.
Ancelotti will no doubt be eager to avoid throwing Virginia in at the deep end against City, with him having only kept two clean sheets in six games with the Toffees’ Under 23s this season, making a positive update on Pickford’s injury very much needed.