Everton manager Carlo Ancelotti insists suggestions goalkeeper Jordan Pickford’s reckless tackle on Virgil van Dijk was pre-meditated are “not fair”.
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.
“There was this contact with Jordan Pickford: it was mistimed contact but the fact the Premier League is so fast, it is not so difficult to arrive a little bit later.
“It can happen. He arrived a little bit later but his intention was to try to catch the ball. It was not to hurt Virgil van Dijk.
“To say it was pre-meditated and this and that, in my opinion, is too much. Virgil van Dijk knows this. This is football and unfortunately you can be injured.
“Jordan is really sad, really disappointed (Van Dijk is injured) but to say it was pre-meditated, it was stupid, is not fair.
“It was a strong contact, maybe mistimed, but sometimes in football it can happen.”
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.
Defender Coleman limped off with a hamstring problem early in the first half and while Rodriguez completed 90 minutes but reported an issue after the match.
“Unfortunately, James had a problem during the game [against Liverpool],” added Ancelotti, who will also be without Richarlison who begins a three-match suspension for his red card against Liverpool.
“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.”
The Toffees manager expects Coleman to miss “two or three weeks” but his absence will be offset by the return of Jonjoe Kenny from an ankle problem.