Carlo Ancelotti has said there is no reason to remove Jordan Pickford from the spotlight at Southampton because the Everton goalkeeper has been unaffected by the intense criticism that followed his performance in the Merseyside derby.
The England international was widely condemned for the challenge that damaged the ACL in Virgil van Dijk’s right knee but, according to Ancelotti, has retained his focus in training and will keep his place at St Mary’s on Sunday. “I don’t consider taking him out,” the Everton manager said.
“I saw him in training this week and he was focused, he put in a good performance in training and he was concentrated. This is what I want to see from a player. After if he has a problem I want him to come to me to talk but he didn’t come to me so I think he is absolutely OK.”
Pickford was under scrutiny without the derby controversy after a series of erratic displays prompted Ancelotti to reverse his decision not to sign a goalkeeper and bring in the Sweden international Robin Olsen from Roma on deadline day. Against Liverpool, and aside from the Van Dijk incident, the keeper produced several excellent saves but also a poor attempt to stop the Jordan Henderson goal that was disallowed in the 92nd minute by VAR.
“Sometimes he did well, sometimes he could do better,” Ancelotti said. “That’s it. He could do better I think with the disallowed goal but he did really well two or three times in that game by making fantastic saves, against [Trent] Alexander-Arnold in the first half and [Joël] Matip in the second half. When we analyse a performance I’m used to looking at the right things and the wrong things, not only the wrong things. I’m used to being quite cold when trying to see what he did good and what he did wrong.”
Ancelotti revealed James Rodríguez could feature against Southampton despite ruling the influential playmaker out of the game through injury on Thursday. “When the specialist saw James on Monday he said that he was out for one week at least,” he said. “He couldn’t train for the week and stayed at home, but fortunately his recovery was good. The haematoma went down in the last two or three days and he started training today.”