James Rodriguez is now in contention to make Everton’s trip to Southampton, claims Carlo Ancelotti, with fitness concerns easing around the Colombian playmaker.
The Toffees boss revealed on Thursday that his South American star was nursing a knock picked up in an eventful Merseyside derby date with Liverpool.
Ancelotti told evertontv: “Unfortunately, James had a problem during the game [against Liverpool].
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“He had a mistimed tackle with Virgil van Dijk at the beginning of the game and I think he will not be available for the game against Southampton.”
That update was considered to represent quite a blow to Everton’s ambition.
Ancelotti’s side have burst out of the blocks in 2020-21, going unbeaten through their opening five Premier League fixtures.
James, fresh from being snapped up from La Liga giants Real Madrid over the summer, has quickly become an influential figure at Goodison Park.
His creativity and eye for goal have endeared him to the Everton natives, with the 29-year-old’s presence helping the Toffees to tick.
Being without him for a trip to St Mary’s Stadium would have forced Ancelotti into shuffling his pack.
It may, however, be that James comes into contention after all after making a return to training on Friday.
Ancelotti told reporters when asked for a fitness update: “He is not definitely out. Fortunately his recovery was really good and he trained today, just a partial training session.
“I hope he is going to train tomorrow and we will see if he is condition to play on Sunday. He is really better now and we are confident that maybe he can play. He was not able to train until today. I hope tomorrow is going to be better.
“Today’s was quite good, the training, but he had only partial training.”
Everton will definitely be without club captain Seamus Coleman for their trip to the south coast, but having James back would offer their pre-match preparations a timely boost.
He has slotted seamlessly into the fold on Merseyside and become a key part of Ancelotti’s plans.
James has three goals and four assists to his name through six appearances in all competitions, with the former Madrid star proving to be the perfect foil for 10-goal top scorer Dominic Calvert-Lewin.