It was initially thought that Virgil van Dijk’s early tackle on James Rodriguez in last weekend’s Merseyside derby would sideline the Colombian through injury.
Everton boss Carlo Ancelotti said as much, claiming James wouldn’t be fit for the Toffees’ game against Southampton on Sunday.
“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,” Ancelotti said.
However, the Italian performed a U-turn on Friday by revealing that Everton’s summer arrival was now in with a good chance of facing the Saints.
James, who has shone in the early stages of the season, trained partially on Friday morning, and according to the Liverpool Echo will be assessed after Saturday’s session.
Talk about a swift recovery.
Last Saturday’s controversial 2-2 draw between Everton and Liverpool is still making headlines as the Reds come to terms with the loss of Van Dijk.
Jordan Pickford has come under fierce criticism after his challenge on the centre-back left him with a potentially season-ending ACL injury.
The Everton goalkeeper escaped punishment for his part in Van Dijk’s injury.
There have since been suggestions that Ancelotti intentionally brought up Van Dijk’s challenge on James to take the attention away from Pickford.
However, he denied any attempt at trying to change the narrative after being called out during his Friday press conference.
Ancelotti called out in press conference
Ancelotti was involved in a tense exchange with Merseyside-based reporter Paul Joyce in which the Everton manager was directly asked about his decision to name Van Dijk in his initial update.
Ancelotti replied: “Because he had the contact with in the first minute with Virgil van Dijk, simple.”
Joyce continued by saying it appeared to be a points scoring exercise designed to hit back at Liverpool after Pickford became the centre of attention.
Ancetti then said: “No, the problem was, at the beginning, the specialist that saw him said he was out for one week, at least, and he couldn't train all week. But after that, his recovery was good, the haematoma went down in the last two or three days and he started training today.
“I don't want to play mind games, I never did and I don't know what they mean so what I said was only the truth.
“I simply said it was a contact with Van Dijk. It could be a contact with Matip, with....it's in the first minute you can watch. That's football, it can happen.”
The second derby of the season can't come quickly enough.
- Adrian: 'There's no defending Pickford'
- Van Dijk injury 'worse than first feared'
- VAR didn't know he could send Pickford off