Carlo Ancelotti: I have to think about whether Jordan Pickford will start

Everton manager Carlo Ancelotti refused to say whether Jordan Pickford would start against Newcastle after his error in midweek.

The England number one was at fault for Leicester’s equaliser in Wednesday’s 1-1 draw, pushing a Youri Tielemans shot into the net, and it was not his first mistake of the season.

Ancelotti has had to field questions on Pickford’s form and long-term suitability several times in his first year in charge, and particularly more since deciding to occasionally rotate his goalkeepers this campaign.

Coincidentally, the England international was left out for the trip to St James’ Park in November in preference to summer loan signing Robin Olsen, but Ancelotti would not disclose who would play at Goodison Park this weekend.

Asked whether Pickford would start, the Italian said: “I don’t know. I have to think about this. I am not in the habit of giving the line-up during the press conference.

“He did a mistake and I think that we can say this, but this doesn’t change for me or his team-mates the confidence we have.

“He did fantastic saves in the past, and if the team is solid it is solid because Pickford was better than in the period before.

“There is absolutely no problem or doubt in his quality or his motivation.

“Pickford didn’t play against Newcastle for normal rotation. I am used to doing this in this period as we have a lot of games.

“We have to play tomorrow, Wednesday, next weekend. We are going to have a lot of games and Jordan will be rotated like the other players.

“I think there is good competition there and the signing of Olsen helped him to be more motivated but also with less pressure.”

In spite of Pickford’s more recent aberration, Everton’s defensive record recently has been good.

They have not conceded more than one goal in their last nine matches and that has brought them five wins and two draws.

“We have more consistency now, are more focused defensively,” Ancelotti said.

“We want to attack more. To be able to defend when you have to defend is important. One of the priorities of the team is to read the situation because when you have to defend and you try to attack it is a mistake.

“I think we were able to read the situations of the games.”

As the lunchtime kick-off, Everton have a chance to go level on points with four-placed Liverpool, who play against another of their current Champions League-chasing rivals West Ham on Sunday.

“For us it is really important because we have the possibility to go up in the table and it can be good motivation for the second part of the season,” said the Toffees boss.

“We know we have to fight for this and we are going to fight.”

Newcastle arrive having lost their last five league matches and not won in nine, putting Steve Bruce under pressure.

Ancelotti offered his support to the beleaguered Magpies boss, saying: “I have a lot of sympathy for Steve as a man.

“He is a good manager, he is under pressure but who is not under pressure? We are, all the time, under pressure.

“Steve has the experience, the knowledge to move on quickly from this situation.”