Everton boss Carlo Ancelotti on Friday confirmed that midfielder James Rodriguez will miss the next two games for the side.
Rodriguez will definitely miss the Boxing Day trip to Sheffield United and visit of Manchester City on December 28 due to the calf problem that has seen him sit out the Blues’ last four games, while Richarlison is being assessed after suffering a blow to the head during Wednesday’s Carabao Cup meeting with Manchester United.
The Brazilian was withdrawn on 56 minutes after a collision with Eric Bailly and by Premier League rules will not be allowed to play for a total of six days if he is found to have suffered a concussion.
With Everton in the midst of a hectic festive schedule – the visit of Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side was the Blues’ fourth game in 12 days – Ancelotti admits there will be opportunities for others to shine.
Earlier this season, Everton lost three straight matches while Richarlison was suspended.
“If he [Richarlison] has a concussion, he has to stay out, we have to follow the protocols and we have to be able to replace him better than when he was not here [before]. Also, for the next two games James will not be available,” Ancelotti told the club’s official website.
“If Richarlison is not there it will be a great opportunity for the players that didn’t play a lot, and for this game, they can show their qualities. I think that [before] Sheffield United we have the possibility to recover all the players and, after the game, of course, we have to take into consideration the fact that we are going to play again two days later, so it will not be possible [for all of the same players to play]. I think, not for the first game but for the second game, we are going to rotate the players,” Ancelotti added.
Boxing Day’s opponents Sheffield United were the Premier League’s surprise package last season, recording 14 wins on their way to a ninth-place finish.
This time around, however, Chris Wilder’s side has found form tougher to come by and currently sit at the bottom of the table with just two points from 14 games.
“I think we have to move on [from the Manchester United defeat]. Of course, we are disappointed but we performed. We have to be able to recover the energy that we need to play against Sheffield United because it will be a tough match, an important match and we want to keep the position in the league that is a good position,” the manager said.
“Sheffield United did a fantastic game against Brighton. Also, because they were with 10 men, they performed really well. It will be an important game. They need the points, we need the points – all the teams need the points. As usual, it will be a tough game because the Premier League is like this. Every game you have to fight to have a result,” he added.