No luck: Ancelotti’s big break an unfortunate blow for “talented” Everton prospect – opinion

No luck: Ancelotti’s big break an unfortunate blow for “talented” Everton prospect – opinion

Lucas Digne has dealt Everton boss Carlo Ancelotti a selection headache ahead of facing Newcastle United this Sunday, but the Football Association’s decision to reduce the Frenchman’s ban from three games to one will come as an unfortunate blow for Everton prospect Niels Nkounkou.

The FA have confirmed that Digne will only serve a one-match suspension for his sending off against Southampton, after an independent Regulatory Commission upheld the Blues’ claim of clearly excessive punishment for his alleged serious foul on Kyle Walker-Peters.

Ancelotti was left incensed that Digne was shown a straight red by referee Kevin Friend during his side’s 2-0 loss, telling reporters after the match via quotes by The Guardian: “The red card was a joke. It was not intentional. Maybe it could be a yellow but for sure it was not violent conduct. They could check better.

“Maybe all the rumours all week against [Jordan] Pickford, against Richarlison, affected the decision and if it is like this, it’s not right, it’s not fair. He did not have the intention to hurt the player, or to use violent conduct. It was not the right decision.”

Ancelotti will now only be without his first-choice left-back for Everton’s trip to Newcastle this weekend, rather than in subsequent Premier League meetings with Manchester United and Fulham too.

This break will be an unfortunate blow for Nkounkou, though, as the summer arrival could have been set for an unexpected run in the first-team following his stellar efforts in the Carabao Cup.

Nkounkou made his Toffees debut in the Blues’ Second Round win over Salford City and kept his place in the starting line-up for subsequent victories over Fleetwood Town and West Ham United, while assisting Moise Kean against the League One Fishermen on route to the supporter’s Man of the Match award.

Ancelotti’s trust in young talents was one of the reasons why Nkounkou chose to join Everton following his release by Olympique de Marseille last season, while Toffees Director of Football Marcel Brands is a clear admirer of his abilities.

“Niels is a young, talented player with good technical and physical skills,” Brands said in July, via quotes by Goal. “We have been following him for months.”

Nkounkou may now get the chance to put those skills front and centre at St. James’ Park against Newcastle this weekend, but no matter how well the 19-year-old plays, Digne will return to the line-up once his suspension is over.

Only James Rodriguez (five) has created a higher number of big chances for Everton than Digne (two) in the Premier League this season, while also being the only Toffees player to record more key balls (18 to 11) or assists (three to two), per SofaScore. The French full-back also ranks first for accurate crosses (12).

Nkounkou, meanwhile, has averaged 2.0 key balls, 1.0 accurate crosses, 48.0 accurate passes, 2.7 tackles and 1.7 successful dribbles per game over his three outings in the EFL Cup, and now has a great chance to put that into use against Newcastle on Sunday.

AND in other news, Everton must secure a January loan move for a talented ace in the “mould of Makelele”.

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