In a busy pre-match press conference with plenty of news, Everton manager Carlo Ancelotti refuted a claim that Jean-Philippe Gbamin had suffered another setback in his long road to recovery.
This statement got a little lost perhaps with the headline being Ancelotti also revealing that Everton star James Rodriguez won’t be fit for tomorrow’s Carabao Cup quarter-final clash against Manchester United.
But the fact that he did shoot down that rumour is important. Gbamin’s health has been an ever-present problem in the background since he signed last summer.
The former Mainz midfielder brought in to replace Idrissa Gueye, has spent almost the entire time he’s been at Everton injured and most Toffees fans have never seen him in a royal blue shirt.
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Following yet another additional injury suffered in training this summer, Gbamin has been recently undergoing specialist rehabilitation in France to finally get over his physical problems and prepare for a long-awaited return to action.
It was expected he might return by the end of this month. So any setback to this rehab would be a considerable blow especially as the Blues are missing key defensive midfielder Allan.
While Tom Davies filled in reasonably well on Saturday and there are other options such as Andre Gomes or moving Mason Holgate into midfield, none of those players are fully able to replace the hugely combative and immensely energetic Brazilian.
A return of the Ivory Coast player would be a very welcome boost to the team, even if he would be well short of match fitness.
Ancelotti didn’t give a firmer time-frame for his return but said he expects it to be ‘soon’, which of course could mean anytime in the next few weeks or even possibly a month from now.
If he was able to return before the end of this calendar year and be available at the beginning of January, that would give Ancelotti a further option and another body as he faces having to find players to complete a lot of fixtures in the next month.
Finally, in other related news that’s just broken, Championship Brentford have beaten Newcastle United tonight to reach the Carabao Cup semi-finals.
No disrespect to the Bees, but they would surely be the opponents everyone else will want to face in the last four. An extra little incentive then for Everton to beat United tomorrow evening.