London (AFP) – Everton insist Colombia midfielder James Rodriguez could have played at the Copa America after he was left out due to concerns over his fitness.
Colombia manager Reinaldo Rueda axed James for the forthcoming tournament after the Everton star’s apparent slow recovery from a calf injury.
At a press conference in Colombia, Rueda said the decision had been taken after assessing his medical report which included information provided by Everton.
But Everton’s medical director Danny Donachie said the 29-year-old left Merseyside last weekend with the recommendation he sat out World Cup qualifiers against Peru and Argentina in order to be fit for the Copa America.
“It was a very small injury at the end of the season and we had no issues at all with James joining up with Colombia,” Donachie told Everton’s website.
“He was hoping to play in the two qualifiers and the only discussion we had with the Colombian FA was whether that was a good idea, or whether it would be more prudent to prepare him for the tournament.
“We agreed he would be fully fit, without any questions, for the start of the Copa America.
“We spoke about his rehab and they agreed to continue the process but there was never a doubt in our mind he would be in top condition in time for the tournament.
“I have seen the tests carried out by Colombia and there is nothing in them to say he is not going to be fit for that competition.
“We track every player individually and have information on every element of their physical condition and performance.
“And, in terms of this particular injury, there would have been no long-term risk in him playing the Copa America.”