Everton’s opening Premier League fixture against Southampton is on the verge of being postponed with five players now isolating due to Covid-19.

New Toffees boss Rafa Benitez confirmed the news in his pre-match press conference on Friday, August 13, just 24 hours before their game against Saints at Goodison Park.

James Rodriguez is one of the Everton players missing on Benitez’s team sheet for Saturday’s match, with the manager revealing: “I had my conversation with him at the beginning and he knows my idea.

“But obviously now he is not available so it is not an issue for tomorrow.”

When asked about players who were missing from last Saturday’s friendly defeat against Manchester United, Benitez confirmed that two of the other missing players are from the trio of Moise Kean, Andre Gomes, and Jean-Philippe Gbamin.

The Spaniard did not name the other two players who will be missing Saturday’s fixture due to Covid-19 isolation.

“When Richarlison wanted to go to the Olympic Games, we analysed the pros and the cons – and we decided it will be a good opportunity for him, to have the chance to win.

“He won the medal, he is happy. He knows we need him now and knows we will try to manage his time off, his holidays, to be sure recovers quickly.

“At the moment, he is fine, he has been training well and he is keen to help the team.”

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