Everton boss Carlo Ancelotti says suggestions goalkeeper Jordan Pickford’s reckless tackle on Virgil Van Dijk was pre-meditated are “too much”.
The England number one has come in for criticism from all sides, with Liverpool midfielder Georginio Wijnaldum continuing the attack earlier this week by suggesting the goalkeeper was “stupid” and made the challenge without concern for the player’s welfare.
Ancelotti has dismissed that and said everyone at the club is sorry about Van Dijk’s knee ligament injury, which will keep him out for several months.
“To be clear, we are really sorry for the injury of Virgil van Dijk. Every one of us hopes he can recover soon and well,” he told everton.tv.
“Jordan arrived a little bit later but his intention was to try to reach the ball. It was not to hurt Virgil van Dijk.
“To say it was premeditated, and this and that, in my opinion, is too much. Virgil van Dijk knows this.
“Jordan is really sad, really disappointed (that Van Dijk is injured).”
Ancelotti also revealed forward James Rodriguez and captain Seamus Coleman are out of Sunday’s visit to Southampton after sustaining injuries in last weekend’s Merseyside derby.
Rodriguez was injured following an early foul by Van Dijk, but played on to help Everton record a 2-2 draw, a scoreline that would have provided punters in the online betting world with a healthy return had they backed it, with many expecting a Liverpool win as a formality.
And Ancelotti made sure he made that point clear.
“Unfortunately, James had a problem during the game,” Ancelotti said.
“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.”
Richarlison starts the first game of his three-match suspension after he was sent off against Liverpool.
“We have to put in other players who have the desire to play,” Ancelotti said.
“We are working this week on this and I think we are going to choose a good line-up for the game against Southampton.
“Alex [Iwobi] is a player who works hard. He is fast and with his quality he can help the team be better in certain situations.
“He [potentially] has an opportunity to play but also we have Bernard and Anthony Gordon.
“We have a lot of opportunities to replace Richarlison and James. We are already moving on.”