Angry Ancelotti defends Pickford over Van Dijk tackle and hits out at Wijnaldum

Carlo Ancelotti has angrily dismissed claims that Jordan Pickford set out to injure Virgil van Dijk as “unfair”.

And the Everton manager also hit back at Gini Wijnaldum’s accusation that the keeper was “completely stupid”, with a passionate defence of his player.

The Italian coach revealed that Pickford was desperately upset about the knee injury van Dijk sustained in a collision, between the pair.

He said: “To say it was pre-meditated or it was stupid, is not fair. It was not to hurt Virgil van Dijk.

“It was a strong contact, maybe mistimed, but sometimes in football it can happen. Virgil van Dijk knows this.

"Jordan arrived a little bit later, but his intention was to try to reach the ball.

“The fact the Premier League is so fast, it is not so difficult to arrive a little bit later. Jordan is really sad, really disappointed , and 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.”

Ancelotti also pointed out that he is without his most influence player, James Rodriguez, this weekend for the visit to Southampton, because of a challenge by Van Dijk early in the explosive derby showdown last weekend.

The forward hasn’t trained after sustaining the injury in the challenge, and Ancelotti said: “Unfortunately, James had a problem during the game [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."

Seamus Coleman is also absent after limping out of the derby, but Allan is cleared to play at St Mary’s.

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