Whelan surprised after major Rodriguez news from Everton

Noel Whelan is impressed after Everton revealed James Rodriguez could return from injury against Sheffield United this weekend.

The former Premier League striker, speaking exclusively to Football Insider, admitted he did not expect to see the Colombian playmaker feature again this season.

As confirmed on Friday afternoon, the 29-year-old is set to be fit and available for Sunday’s clash.

Rodriguez has sat out Everton’s last three games, including Thursday’s 0-0 draw against Aston Villa, with a calf injury.

However, he returned to training on Friday in preparation for the Blades’ visit to Goodison Park.

With the season coming to a close, Whelan admitted he was surprised Rodriguez could feature again.

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Whelan told Football Insider assistant editor Russell Edge: They’re a weaker side without him in.

“He’s the one that can open the door, it’s a brilliant news to have him back. He can be that go to man when you need something to happen. When he’s not in the side, they lose a little bit of creativity.

“That’s known, it’s seen. When he’s in the side, a lot goes through him. You’re looking for him all the time. Those cross-field passes, that eye, that something that other players don’t have in the side.

“That’s why Ancelotti brought him to Everton, for that little bit of brilliance that can change the momentum in a game. They need him fit, they need him back. I thought next season would be the next time we’d see him.”

Rodriguez has chipped in with six goals and nine assists in 25 appearances for Everton this season.

However, he has missed no fewer than 14 games as a result of calf problems since joining the Toffees.

In other news, Everton are in hunt to sign EFL sensation this summer.