Carlo Ancelotti has confirmed Jordan Pickford will not return to the Everton starting line-up against Manchester United, but faces some questions over his selections elsewhere on the pitch on Saturday.
Pickford was absent from the side that beat Leeds United 2-1 on Wednesday night with a rib injury and has failed to overcome the issue in time to travel to Old Trafford, where Robin Olsen will again start in goal.
Everton are also still yet to welcome back Allan or Jean-Philippe Gbamin for selection as the midfielders continue their recovery from hamstring and Achilles injuries, in an otherwise fully fit squad after Fabian Delph’s recent return from a hamstring issue.
So, as Ancelotti looks to build on victory over Leeds with a first win at Old Trafford since beating Manchester United in December 2013, here’s a potential line-up Everton could name…
Ancelotti could not refrain from admitting his surprise at how well Ben Godfrey is performing after a showcase display from the £20m summer signing against Leeds during the week, but may look to return the former Norwich City ace to a wide role in defence against Manchester United.
The Red Devils are one the Premier League’s form sides at the moment as they look to contend with Man City for the title, and will host Everton hot after trashing Southampton 9-0 last time out with eight different players getting on the scoresheet.
A move back to full-back for Godfrey would allow Michael Keane to return to central defence beside Yerry Mina after being rested at Elland Road, and may be partnered by the £8.5m-rated Seamus Coleman after Mason Holgate’s difficult night against Leeds.
Holgate’s failed clearance allowed for the Whites to strike early in the second half and discover a potential route back into the game, and would earn SofaScore’s joint-lowest match rating for any player that started for either side at 6.4 out of 10.
Everton enjoyed success with Godfrey at left-back and Lucas Digne in midfield against Wolverhampton Wanderers and Leicester City earlier in the year, while the Frenchman’s overlapping runs returned the assist for Gylfi Sigurdsson’s goal against Leeds.
Richarlison briefly showed signs of promise on the left-wing at Elland Road but was still left searching for his best form in attack, which Ancelotti may look to rediscover with a return to a central role alongside Dominic Calvert-Lewin.
The biggest question marks facing Ancelotti ahead of travelling to Manchester United come in midfield with the Italian having to weigh up a potential recall for James Rodriguez and who would step aside for the Colombian, who played no role in the win over Leeds.
Ancelotti could persist without the former Real Madrid playmaker at Old Trafford and instead favour Sigurdsson beside Abdoulaye Doucoure in the engine room, after his imperious showing against Marcelo Bielsa’s men, which would see Andre Gomes fall to the bench after a Man of the Match performance in midweek.
Rodriguez is also an option for the right-wing spot after Alex Iwobi’s struggles on Wednesday night, yet Ancelotti will be expected to persist with the Nigerian for he can offer a higher level of endeavour, speed, fight and focus as Everton strive to avoid a third defeat to Manchester United this season alone.