It’s been a mixed week for Roberto Martinez on the injury front with Gerard Deulofeu being ruled out; however the manager revealed that Leighton Baines is closing in on a return to action for Everton over the festive period.

Baines has been missing for the Blues since suffering a fractured toe during the dramatic 3-3 derby clash with Liverpool last month and the Blues boss has confirmed he has returned to training this week and will be eased back into the first-team picture over the hectic Christmas period – although the trip to Swansea may come too soon for the defender.

When the time comes for Baines to return, it is sure to provide Martinez with a selection headache, having seen Bryan Oviedo take over the left-back role with a string of impressive performances.

He told “The prospect of having Bryan and Leighton fully fit is a great challenge and I am very satisfied with it. I wouldn’t like to be in a position where I didn’t have that dilemma.

“Leighton has already been introduced to training. We now need to see how the injury reacts. If there is no reaction, he will be available to play on Boxing Day, possibly even earlier.
“He’s not too far away but we need to make sure we don’t rush him back too early. It’s such a busy period that we cannot afford any setback in his rehab.”

With the games coming thick and fast over the Christmas and New Year period, Martinez will be delighted with the progress that Leighton Baines has made but I think credit has to be paid to Bryan Oviedo, as he has taken over the left-back role exceptionally well, with not a lot of previous first team appearances – not forgetting the winning goal against Manchester United.

I wouldn’t like to be in the Managers position when Leighton Baines is ready to return as I think Oviedo has proved his point that he can be relied on and can bring some brilliant performances into the team.

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Becki Cookson

LJMU Journalism graduate & aspiring sports journalist Writer for GrandOldTeam