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Sport

Ancelotti makes U-turn on Rodriguez fitness ahead of Southampton clash

FILE PHOTO: Soccer Football - Premier League - Everton v Brighton & Hove Albion - Goodison Park, Liverpool, Britain - October 3, 2020 Everton manager Carlo Ancelotti reacts Pool via REUTERS/Jan Kruger

(Reuters) - Everton coach Carlo Ancelotti is hopeful playmaker James Rodriguez will be fit in time for Sunday’s Premier League clash at Southampton, a day after saying he expected the Colombia international to miss the match.

Rodriguez sustained an injury during a challenge from Liverpool defender Virgil van Dijk early in last weekend’s Merseyside derby draw at Goodison Park, although he stayed on for the full 90 minutes.

Ancelotti had earlier suggested Rodriguez would be unable to face the Saints but on Friday confirmed the player had resumed partial training.

“He is not definitely out,” Ancelotti told reporters. “Fortunately his recovery was really good and he trained today, just a partial training session.

“I hope he trains tomorrow and is in condition to play on Sunday. We are really confident he can maybe play.”

Ancelotti said centre back Ben Godfrey, who made his Everton debut against Liverpool, will be deployed at right back against the Saints, with Jonjoe Kenny yet to recover from an ankle injury.

League leaders Everton are unbeaten this season, having recorded four wins and a draw against reigning champions Liverpool.

“The start was good, now there is a consistency to show every game,” Ancelotti said.

“They (Southampton) are trying to play without the ball with high intensity, they are really compact. We have to be smart, we have to be clever with the ball. If we are, we could have chances to win the game.”

Reporting by Manasi Pathak in Chennai; Editing by Toby Davis

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