Carlo Ancelotti must unleash Seamus Coleman on Chelsea amid hopes that the Everton full-back will be fit to face Frank Lampard’s side at Goodison Park on Saturday night.
The 32-year-old has missed five of the Toffees’ last six Premier League fixtures through a hamstring strain, originally sustained just over half an hour into October’s Merseyside Derby draw with Liverpool.
Coleman returned to action in time for the Republic of Ireland’s November internationals but suffered a recurrence of the issue in training, ruling the 56-cap defender out of the side to face England.
Coleman has not been seen at Goodison Park since November’s 3-1 defeat to Manchester United as he earned his sixth start of the Premier League campaign, yet, he could add to his tally this weekend with Ancelotti expecting the Blues captain to win his race to be fit.
According to the Liverpool Echo, the Italian tactician is confident the long-time Everton servant has now overcome his issue in a timely boost, having lost Fabian Delph to a hamstring strain of his own at Burnley on Saturday.
If Coleman is able to come through the week unscathed in training, Ancelotti must look to unleash the right-back, who Republic of Ireland boss Stephen Kenny lauds as an “exceptional” talent.
Ancelotti has struggled to find a suitable alternative for Coleman whilst without the 32-year-old, with Ben Godfrey tasked with the role against Southampton, Jonjoe Kenny favoured at Newcastle United, Alex Iwobi fielded in an unfamiliar role at Fulham and Burnley, and Tom Davies similarly played out of position against Leeds.
Iwobi offered a solid but unremarkable showing at Turf Moor on Saturday with three successful tackles, one interception, 10 attempted crosses and blocked one shot, per SofaScore, though the Nigerian was also dribbled past twice, lost seven of 13 ground duels and turned possession over 25 times.
His performance left a downbeat impression on former Everton midfielder Gareth Barry, who told BT Sport during their coverage of the fixture: “I thought his best play was going forward. He put a couple of good crosses in.
“There were a couple of crosses he could’ve done better. But he won’t want to play at full-back. There’s players in the dressing room who could probably do that job a bit better.”
Coleman would no doubt be an upgrade on Iwobi and in an important fixture with Everton now boasting just one win in their last seven Premier League fixtures, whilst Chelsea will arrive at Goodison Park having lost only once this season.
Ancelotti will need to rely on Coleman’s expertise to keep the likes of Timo Werner, Mason Mount and Ben Chilwell quiet, with the Irishman averaging 2.3 tackles, 2.0 clearances, 4.5 ground duels won and 0.7 interceptions per top-flight appearance this term.
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