Noel Whelan has given his reaction to the news that James Rodriguez may be able to play for Everton against Sheffield United on Sunday evening.
The Lowdown: Rodriguez may be fit
As per the Toffees’ official website, Carlo Ancelotti has claimed that the Colombian is set to be fit and available to play against the Blades this weekend.
Has Rodriguez been a success at Everton?
The former Real Madrid star has missed the Merseyside club’s last three games in the Premier League, and so it will come as a welcome relief to have him back as they chase European qualification.
The Latest: Whelan gives Rodriguez reaction
Speaking to Football Insider, Whelan – who is now a pundit after playing as a striker for the likes of Leeds United and Coventry City in the past – highlighted just how important Rodriguez is to Everton and admitted that he did not think the 29-year-old would play again this season. He said:
“They’re a weaker side without him in.
“He’s the one that can open the door, it’s a brilliant news to have him back. He can be that go to man when you need something to happen. When he’s not in the side, they lose a little bit of creativity.
“That’s known, it’s seen. When he’s in the side, a lot goes through him. You’re looking for him all the time. Those cross-field passes, that eye, that something that other players don’t have in the side.
“That’s why Ancelotti brought him to Everton, for that little bit of brilliance that can change the momentum in a game. They need him fit, they need him back. I thought next season would be the next time we’d see him.”
The Verdict: Rodriguez comeback vital
The comeback of Rodriguez could well be vital if the Toffees are to achieve European qualification this year. In his recent absence, Everton have dropped five points in two meetings against Aston Villa.
The Colombia international has scored six goals and supplied a further nine assists in 25 matches over all competitions so far this season (Transfermarkt), offering a creative spark in midfield to help make chances for his attacking team-mates.
As Whelan has hinted, Rodriguez may be crucial in unlocking the door for Everton against a stubborn Blades team who lost narrowly to the Toffees back at Christmas.
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