Ronald Koeman has welcomed the leadership and experience Ashley Williams will bring to Everton’s defence but revealed the Wales captain will not be available to make his debut in Saturday’s Premier League opener against Tottenham.
Williams ended an eight-year association with Swansea City on Wednesday when he signed a three-year deal.
But Koeman, who also listed star striker Romelu Lukaku (heel) and right-back Seamus Coleman (ankle) as doubts for Spurs’ visit to Goodison Park, confirmed Williams’ late return to training following Wales’ Euro 2016 exertions and a week of transfer negotiations left him lacking in match fitness.
“He will bring leadership to the team and he will bring experience to the team,” the Dutchman told a news conference ahead of his first competitive game as Everton boss.
“He knows the Premier League for a long time but he is still not available for the weekend. He started late because of the Euros and, of course, last week all the business between Swansea and Everton, he did not really do training sessions with the team.
“I hope that he can be ready after 10 days of training, before next weekend.
“We are not at the level we need to be yet. We are working hard and we will improve. But the team will be strong on Saturday.”
It appears unlikely that Williams will be the last new face through the door at Everton’s Finch Farm training base after the club were heavily linked to Crystal Palace winger Yannick Bolasie and Sunderland centre-back Lamine Kone this week.
However, Koeman refused to be drawn on the transfer speculation.
“I don’t talk about rumours, players who are still in contract with other teams,” he said.
“I speak about players who have signed a contract with Everton when everything is done. It is not about rumours.
“I don’t like that from other managers and I don’t do that.”
The arrival of Williams and mooted purchase of Kone, who is also reported to be a target for Chelsea, does not spell the end of Phil Jagielka’s time with Everton.
“Phil Jagielka is the captain of the team,” Koeman added. “We don’t have too manty centre-backs. We need four so there is no way he can leave the club.”
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