Jordan Pickford is “really sad” how his “mistimed” challenge on Virgil van Dijk led to the Liverpool defender sustaining a serious knee injury, according to Carlo Ancelotti.
Liverpool confirmed Van Dijk would require surgery after he was unable to continue following a challenge by Toffees goalkeeper Pickford in the first half of the 2-2 draw in the Merseyside derby on Saturday.
It is unclear how long the anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) injury will sideline the Netherlands captain Van Dijk for, but he was omitted from the Reds’ 25-man Premier League squad.
Ancelotti insists claims that Pickford’s challenge was premeditated are “too much” and added everyone at Everton hopes Van Dijk can “recover soon and well”.
“To be clear, we are really sorry for the injury of Virgil van Dijk,” Ancelotti told the Everton club website.
“Every one of us hopes he can recover soon and well.
“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.
“Jordan arrived a little bit later but his intention was to try to reach the ball.
“It was not to hurt Virgil van Dijk. To say it was premeditated, and this and that, in my opinion, is too much. Virgil van Dijk knows this.
“Jordan is really sad, really disappointed (that he is injured).
“It was a strong contact, maybe mistimed, but sometimes in football, it can happen.”
James set to miss Saints trip over injury sustained in Van Dijk challenge
Meanwhile, Ancelotti expects Everton to be without James Rodriguez for their Premier League match against Southampton at St Mary’s on Sunday.
Rodriguez, who has been influential since his summer arrival from Real Madrid, sustained the injury during a challenge from Van Dijk in the early stages of the derby.
Despite completing the full match at Goodison Park, the Colombia international is unlikely to feature as the league table-toppers seek to extend their unbeaten start to the season.
“Unfortunately, James had a problem during the game [against Liverpool],” Ancelotti said.
“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.”
Everton are already without Richarlison, who will serve the first game of a three-match ban for his red card challenge on Thiago, while Ancelotti also expects club captain Seamus Coleman to miss “two or three weeks” with “not a big problem”.
“We have to put in other players who have the desire to play,” the Italian said.
“We are working this week on this and I think we are going to choose a good line-up for the game against Southampton.
“Alex [Iwobi] is a player who works hard. He is fast and with his quality he can help the team be better in certain situations.
“He [potentially] has an opportunity to play but also we have Bernard and Anthony Gordon.
“We have a lot of opportunities to replace Richarlison and James.
“We are already moving on.”