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Benitez eases Pickford concern and explains how Everton can ‘compete’

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Rafa Benitez has confirmed the fitness of Jordan Pickford as he looked ahead to two crucial fixtures on the horizon for his Everton side.

The England international was back in goal for the Blues on Saturday afternoon and claimed a clean sheet as the hosts secured a 2-0 victory over Norwich City at Goodison Park.

Goals from Andros Townsend and Abdoulaye Doucoure were enough to secure all three points, but one moment in the second half sparked some concern over the shot-stopper.

Pickford went down on his goal-line after stretching for a cross and needed treatment, with Asmir Begovic being told to warm up before the England No.1 eventually got to his feet and completed the 90 minutes.

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However, Benitez has now confirmed that the goalkeeper is not still suffering from the issue which made him miss matches against Aston Villa and Queens Park Rangers.

The Everton boss remarked: “No, it was a little bit of discomfort for one ball where he had to stretch the arm.

“He’s fine, so I think it’s not a big issue.”

The Blues now face up to two tough matches either side of the upcoming international break.

First Everton will travel to Manchester United, who sit level on points with Benitez’s side in the early Premier League table, before they host West Ham United after the break.

And Benitez hopes that he can have important players such as Dominic Calvert-Lewin, Richarlison and Seamus Coleman back to “compete” in games against top sides in the future.

He added: “Yeah I think that, in the end, you have to play against everyone – but it’s the time and the moment you have to play against them.

“Unfortunately for us we’ve lost some players and we have to manage with the players that we have.

“I’m really pleased with them, but still we have some important players missing.

“We will see where we are when everyone is available, and then we can compete against these top sides and see where we are.”

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