James Rodriguez: Everton manager Carlo Ancelotti hopeful midfielder will be fit by January 9

James Rodriguez has missed Everton's last five matches due to a calf problem; Everton boss Carlo Ancelotti confirms forward Richarlison is fit to face West Ham on New Year's Day; Ancelotti also praises the Premier League's coronavirus protocols following Man City postponement

James Rodriguez struck his first Everton goal to give his side the lead
Image: Everton manager Carlo Ancelotti hopes to have James Rodriguez fit by January 9 when they face Rotherham in the FA Cup

Everton manager Carlo Ancelotti is hopeful James Rodriguez will return to full fitness in time to face Rotherham in the FA Cup third round on January 9.

Colombia international James, who last appeared for Everton in the 1-1 draw with Burnley at the beginning of the month, has missed his side's previous five matches with a calf issue.

The 2014 World Cup Golden Boot winner was an instant hit at Goodison Park after an impressive start to the season, and Ancelotti says the playmaker should be fit as Everton enter this season's FA Cup.

"For James, we have to look day by day. Unfortunately, he's not ready yet. It's taking a little bit longer, so I hope that for the next game [against Rotherham], he will be ready," Ancelotti said.

Ancelotti, who confirmed Everton forward Richarlison is fit to face West Ham on New Year's Day, also gave a positive update on the fitness of injured duo Allan and Lucas Digne.

Richarlison is yet to find his best form this season under Ancelotti
Image: Ancelotti confirmed Everton forward Richarlison will be fit to face West Ham on New Year's Day

Allan suffered a hamstring injury in the 2-0 win at Leicester on December 16, while an ankle problem has kept Digne out of action for the entirety of this month.

"Allan is doing individual sessions," Ancelotti said. "I think that at least around the end of January, he will be ready.

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"We have good news from Lucas Digne - he's starting individual session and within one week or ten days, he'll be able to train with the team."

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Ancelotti praises PL's Covid-19 protocols

Ancelotti was also asked on his thoughts about the decision to postpone Everton's home game against Manchester City on Monday just four hours before kick-off.

The move was due to a further outbreak of Covid-19 among the City squad, but Ancelotti accepted the seriousness of the situation and praised the Premier League's protocols.

Image: Everton's Premier League game against Manchester City on Monday night was postponed hours before kick-off because of a Covid-19 outbreak among the City squad

"Everyone was disappointed we didn't play the game, also Manchester City. Unfortunately, they had problems and the Premier League decided to postpone the game. We followed the decision and we move forward to the next game," Ancelotti said.

"We didn't receive further information yet but I think soon we are going to have this. The announcement was only four hours [before kick-off], we were at the hotel, but I think it doesn't matter. The situation was quite clear. We move forward.

"The fact that we didn't play against City means we can have fresh legs against West Ham. For that reason, it can be an advantage. The preparation for the game was good; we still have days. I hope that we are ready."

Carlo Ancelotti
Image: Ancelotti says he is happy with the Premier League's coronavirus protocols

The rising number of coronavirus cases in recent weeks has led to calls for a two-week suspension, but the Premier League say they are not discussing that possibility.

Asked whether a short break would be beneficial, Ancelotti said: "It's a difficult moment for the country. We have to take care of this. We have to follow the protocols. I think not all people are following the protocols, not all people wear masks, not all people take social distancing. First of all, we have to follow this.

"I'm not in the right position to decide if we have to play or not. I think the fact that football is being played at the moment is good for people because, unfortunately, a lot of supporters have to stay at home. To have matches on TV, I think, is good.

"The protocol that the Premier League put in place is a really good protocol. We feel safe in our bubble, but outside I have to pay attention like all people. I was surprised yesterday; I was walking and not a lot of people wear the masks. This moment is a really particular moment."

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