Everton manager Carlo Ancelotti will rest a number of key players for the FA Cup visit of Championship strugglers Rotherham but insists he is taking the competition seriously.
The Italian’s options have been boosted by Lucas Digne’s “unbelievable” recovery from a November ankle operation and, while he will play James Rodriguez to improve his match fitness, he is leaving out leading scorer Dominic Calvert-Lewin, Richarlison and Jordan Pickford.
Striker Cenk Tosun is likely to make his first start since November 2019, while September signing Ben Godfrey will play his first game in his preferred central defence position.
Ancelotti is aware of the reputation the competition – which produced the club’s last trophy in 1995 – has for producing upsets and is keen to avoid one at Goodison Park.
“We know how important the FA Cup is in England. We want to start this competition well,” he said.
“It will be a physical game I am sure. They (Rotherham) have problems in the Championship but I know the FA Cup is a whole different story.
“All the time there are strange results no one expects so we have to pay attention to this.”
Despite leaving out a key trio, Ancelotti will still be able to field a strong side, which will include Digne.
The France international had surgery at the end of November after sustaining an injury in training and was expected to be out for between two and three months.
“He is fit. His recovery was really fast, the medical staff and him did a fantastic job,” said Ancelotti.
“He trained all week with us and is fit, in good condition and can play tomorrow.
“We know Digne is a top professional. I think the surgeon was good, the rehab was really good and so it was unbelievable to see Digne so early in training.”
The left-back is also on the verge of signing a new deal at the club.
“I think it is almost done. I am not involved in this but the two parts – the club and him – are really close,” he added.
“It is important to have an important player with personality, quality and talent with us for the future.”
Fringe players like Tosun and Bernard have been linked with January moves away but Ancelotti, who is not planning any signings this month, said there was nothing imminent.
“We are not talking with Roma about Bernard,” said the Toffees boss, who rejected speculation the Brazilian could be involved in a swap deal with on-loan Roma goalkeeper Robin Olsen.
“We will try to keep Olsen for the future and will try to talk to Roma but no discussion with them about Bernard – he is our player and will be our player.
“We are not, in this moment, thinking to sign new players.
“If some player is not happy to stay and wants to leave we are open to talk to them but at the moment no player has asked to leave.”
Reports have claimed Paris St Germain are keen to make Moise Kean’s loan permanent but Ancelotti, who earlier this season was adamant the striker had a long-term future at the club, said the Ligue 1 side would have to come up with a decent offer.
“Moise is doing really well but he is on loan at Paris St Germain. He could be back in the summer,” he said.
“If Paris St Germain want him they have to sit at the table with the club.”