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Pickford is ready to make Everton debut as Rooney wins fitness race

By Paul Burrows

Jordan Pickford will make his competitive debut for Everton tonight, while Wayne Rooney has been passed fit for the Europa League second-leg qualifying game against Ruzomberok in Slovakia.

The Toffees hold a slender 1-0 advantage thanks to Leighton Baines' strike at Goodison Park last week in a fixture that saw Pickford start on the bench.

However, boss Ronald Koeman has confirmed that the England Under-21 international, who arrived from Sunderland for £30m this summer, will be in goal.

Speaking at his pre-match press conference, the Dutchman said: "We know we need to make decisions and it is not only about the goalkeeper. It's still the pre-season but we can't call it pre-season because we're playing in an important game. Pickford will start."

There had been concerns over Rooney's availability, yet Koeman was able to quash any doubts over the 31-year-old's fitness.

"Wayne had some groin issues in the past few days but he trained normally yesterday and this morning," Koeman added. "He is fit.

"We always try to play offensive football, we don't come here to defend the result, it's not the way I like and it's not the best way.

"Maybe Ruzomberok need to attack more but they did a good job and it is the second leg of this round so we will see."

Belfast Telegraph


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