Sam Allardyce has revealed that Leighton Baines is drawing closer to a return from injury and has set a timetable for the defenders return to action.
The long-time Everton defender has been sidelined since November with a calf injury and has suffered a number of setbacks in his recovery that has lead to his current extended period out injured.
However, Allardyce revealed that the 33-year-old could return for the Blues when they face off against Watford at the back end of February.
"(The injury list) is the best since I have been here," Allardyce said in his pre-match press conference. “(Maarten) Stekelenburg is nearly joining in training, Leighton Baines is not on the field but is in the full mode for recovery,” Allardyce revealed.
The 63-year-old boss continued: “He (Baines) is running and we would expect by the time we play Watford that he will be clear of injury.
“So the injuries have been pretty good, especially considering how many injuries there were when I arrived - and some were long-term injuries that we have recovered from.”
Everton had hoped to welcome Baines back a couple of games ago but his absence has seen Cuco Martina continue to deputise at left-back. Luke Garbutt was registered to the Blues’ Premier League squad list but has not been utilised.
Martina is likely to continue to deputise as Everton welcome Crystal Palace to Goodison Park on Saturday.
Clearing the injury list
Everton’s long-term injury list has begun to whittle down in the past few weeks with the return of key players like Yannick Bolasie and Seamus Coleman.
The Blues also welcomed back Ramiro Funes Mori to action earlier this week as the Argentine defender played 45 minutes with the Under-23 squad.
Mori, like Bolasie and Coleman, is a player that Allardyce’s squad can utilise and welcome back from the long-term injury list with open arms.
“It’s nice to say there are less than a handful of players injured at the moment,” Allardyce concluded.