Michael Ball has exclusively told The Transfer Tavern that Everton are simply not the same team without James Rodriguez, with his recent absence set to continue after he was once again ruled out for the Premier League clash with Aston Villa tonight.
It’s been a mixed first season in the Premier League for the Colombian, who scored three times and assisted as many in his opening six games in a Toffees shirt.
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However, Rodriguez’s campaign has been hindered by an ongoing calf problem, forcing him to miss 11 matches, including the visit to Villa Park on Thursday evening.
The former Real Madrid man is expected to return before the campaign finishes, but Everton have struggled without his influence on the pitch, with each of their previous three league defeats coming without him in the side.
The 29-year-old has been suffering with niggles and various types of injuries for a number of seasons, missing 23 matches across the previous two campaigns for Madrid and Bayern Munich.
And Ball is excited to see what Rodriguez can do with a full pre-season under his belt, having signed for the Toffees less than seven days before their opening-day victory at Tottenham.
He told The Transfer Tavern:
“It’s disappointing. When James plays, we look more exciting. His quality is plain to see, every time he gets the ball, his decision-making.
“The excuse, but not just for Everton, for a lot of players this season is that it’s been a short pre-season, so you expect to get these niggles.
“I was looking into his history and he’s not a player that plays 30-40 games a season, he does miss a lot of games. While that’s really frustrating, it’s what Everton were expecting to happen. When he’s not playing, we don’t seem to hit the heights. It will be great to see him with a full pre-season, fully fit, match fit and see what he can produce week in, week out.”
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