Carlo Ancelotti has confirmed that Jordan Pickford will return in goal for Everton when Manchester City visit Goodison Park on Wednesday night.
The England number one has missed his side’s last three Premier League fixtures plus the Blues’ FA Cup fifth-round win over Tottenham Hotspur due to an abdominal injury, which he sustained during last months’ 2-0 defeat to Newcastle United.
AS Roma loanee Robin Olsen had opened all fixtures that Pickford sat out but will now return to the bench and could be joined by a handful of the XI which were beaten by Scott Parker’s relegation-threatened Fulham last time out.
So, as Ancelotti strives to end a four-game winless league run at Goodison Park, here is a potential line-up the Italian could field against Pep Guardiola’s title-chasing Sky Blues…
Everton were dealt a blow ahead of Wednesday night’s clash with Manchester City after Ancelotti ruled top-scorer Dominic Calvert-Lewin out with a hamstring injury, that he hopes the striker will recover from in time to face Liverpool at the weekend.
But the Toffees boss had brighter news to share on the fitness of Pickford plus midfielder Allan when speaking to the media on Tuesday: “For Dominic, I think it is a matter of days [before he is fit again]. We hope he will be available on Saturday.
“The others are all okay. Pickford trained yesterday [Monday], and he was okay. We will check again today, and if he is available, he is going to play.
“Allan is in contention. He is fit. He is good.”
Allan has missed the last two months of action with a hamstring injury sustained at Leicester City on December 16 but, after a few setbacks in recent weeks, is finally able to make his 13th Premier League appearance following a £21m summer switch from SSC Napoli.
The Brazilian will be expected to waltz back into Ancelotti’s engine room against Manchester City, likely at the expense of Andre Gomes after the Portuguese midfielder was off-tune in Everton’s 2-0 defeat to Fulham while Tom Davies brought the most promise and energy to the role.
Ancelotti also faces a huge selection dilemma over his creative midfielder between Gylfi Sigurdsson and James Rodriguez after neither were at their best against Fulham, and could ere on the side of the Colombian rather than the £100k-per-week Icelandic maestro after he scored in Everton’s 3-3 draw with Manchester United.
Moving Rodriguez back into midfield will also create an opening in attack for Joshua King to earn his first start in royal blue with Calvert-Lewin sidelined, having made each of his three Everton appearances to date from the bench.
Ancelotti has already confirmed that Pickford will return to his role between the sticks on Wednesday night but has decisions to make over Everton’s back four.
Lucas Digne is the only member of the unit that lost to Fulham that will be expected to have guaranteed continued presence.
Centre-half duo Mason Holgate and Ben Godfrey both failed to leave much on the pitch to admire, with Holgate producing a sloppy performance and at fault for Josh Maja’s first goal while Godfrey likewise lacked the sharpness to stop the Cottagers doubling their lead.
Either could now move back out to right-back to afford Michael Keane and Yerry Mina a recall, though Godfrey will be the one expected to take over from the £70k-per-week Seamus Coleman after being favoured in the role against Tottenham in the FA Cup last week in the fifth and final change from the weekend’s defeat.
AND in other news, Carlo Ancelotti is willing Everton to pay £26.5m for a £176k-p/w gem…