Everton manager Carlo Ancelotti hopes the international break will provide the necessary reset for his side to make a final push for European qualification.
Inconsistency has dogged the Toffees since they went top of the table in October as they have not been able to go more than four Premier League matches without losing.
A return of 14 points from the last 33 available, including four defeats in the last seven matches, effectively ended their chances of forcing their way into the top four but Ancelotti’s first target this season was always to qualify for Europe.
Playmaker James Rodriguez, who has not featured since late February due to a calf problem, is expected to be fit for Everton’s next match on April 5, with England goalkeeper Jordan Pickford also set to return from an abdominal injury.
And with his South American players Richarlison, Allan and Yerry Mina all remaining on Merseyside after their World Cup qualifiers were postponed due to Covid restrictions, Ancelotti has a number of core players to work with during the international break.
“This break can help us recover some players who are out – James and, maybe, Jean-Philippe Gbamin (who has not played since the summer of 2019 due to a number of serious injuries),” Ancelotti told evertontv.
“We will have a more complete squad. James can put more quality in the squad, for sure, and with a good condition can help us try to reach our target. We are not going to lose a lot of players (to international duty) and have to be focused on those who are here.
“The physical condition of the players is good (but it is important) to have a rest because some players are a little bit tired, then prepare well for the next game. It will be a big fight for that (European) position because a lot of teams are involved.”