Ancelotti Sets Challenge To 'Fantastic' Everton Strike Pair

Carlo Ancelotti is challenging “fantastic strikers” Dominic Calvert-Lewin and Richarlison to hit a minimum of 20 goals apiece this season.

The two forwards were Everton’s joint-top marksmen last term with 15 strikes each in all competitions.

Calvert-Lewin is level with Tottenham Hotspur's Heung-min Son at the top of this nascent campaign's Premier League scoring charts with four from two games.

Fellow 23-year-old Richarlison opened his account for the season with a double in Wednesday’s Carabao Cup win at Fleetwood Town.

And Ancelotti, talking on the eve of Everton’s visit to Crystal Palace on Saturday, confessed he expects the two forwards to feast on ammunition supplied by their battery of creative teammates.

“We have two fantastic strikers and behind them James, [Andre] Gomes [Gylfi] Sigurdsson and Bernard ” said Ancelotti.

“Our strikers have to be happy because behind them are fantastic assist men.

“I hope Dominic can reach 20 goals, he has the possibility, like Richarlison.

 "I said to them, ''You have to score at least 20 goals each.

“James Rodriguez is going to help the strikers because he is a fantastic assists man.

“Dominic is young and has quality.

“The most important part [in his development] is the fact the player is really motivated to improve.

“The fact he is young means he has the possibility to improve his quality – we are trying to help him.

“You can see already the qualities of a fantastic striker.

“He can be a top striker if he adds consistency and, for a striker, consistency means scoring goals.”

Everton travel to Roy Hodgson’s Palace targeting a third straight win at the outset of a top-flight season for the first time since 1993.

Ancelotti’s team will encounter opponents enjoying a similarly bountiful beginning to the campaign, Palace winning at Manchester United last week following a first-day victory over Southampton.

The past two meetings at Selhurst Park have finished in stalemates.

But Italian Ancelotti, who responded to questions about Jordan Pickford in his press conference by expressing his “total confidence” in the goalkeeper, wants his side to sustain their early-season momentum.

Pickford shut out Tottenham in a 1-0 opening-day win and Calvert-Lewin added to his goal in that game with a hat-trick as Everton beat West Brom 5-2 last week.

“We started the season well, with more motivation and ambition,” said Ancleotti.

“We have a good test tomorrow, our target is to think about the game against Crystal Palace.

“They started really well and played a fantastic game against Manchester United.

“Roy Hodgson is a fantastic manager, he knows the Premier League well and built a really strong, well-organised team, using the characteristics of his players.

“I saw the game against Manchester United, they defended really well and were dangerous and fast on the counter-attack.

“[Wilfried] Zaha playing up front, rather than out wide, helped them be more dangerous.

“We have to prepare well and have a good strategy to try to win.

“It will be a difficult game but we have confidence, our momentum is good and we want to keep it good.”

Ancelotti confirmed Calvert-Lewin is fit to play after a minor issue with the player’s hamstring at Fleetwood in midweek.

Midfielder Fabian Delph returned following seven months on the sidelines in that game but will remain on Merseyside to prepare for Wednesday’s Carabao Cup fourth-round tie with West Ham United.

Next week’s meeting with the Hammers could provide left-back Niels Nkounkou with his first taste of action against Premier League opposition.

The 19-year-old Frenchman, signed in July, was in sizzling form against Fleetwood following an impressive debut when Everton knocked out Salford City in the previous round.

“He did well,” added Ancelotti.

“He is surprising most people because they did not know him.

“The next step for him is to have a test in the Premier League games.

“Next Wednesday we are going to play a Premier League team and it will be a good test for him.”