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Arsenal (A) Sun 1 Mar 2015, 14:05, Barclays Premier League

by Matthew Gamble @efc_mattgamble

Roberto Martinez says he is hopeful of having Leighton Baines back in time for Christmas.

The left-back is currently nursing a fractured toe he sustained during last month's Merseyside derby, an injury that could have been set to keep him sidelined until the New Year.

Martinez, however, believes Baines is making a quicker than expected recovery and could be available to play his part in a festive schedule that includes back-to-back home games against Sunderland and Southampton.
"We always felt it was going to be up to six weeks with Leighton," the Blues boss said on Friday. "I think he has progressed really, really well and he's not far away - I don't think it's going to be six weeks at all.

"But obviously it's still a little bit too early to know when he's going to be fully fit. We want Leighton back fully fit as soon as we can.

"Three to four weeks is probably the margin that we're giving ourselves to see Leighton back."

Martinez also confirmed that his squad had picked up no fresh injuries ahead of Sunday's trip to Arsenal, meaning Baines, Arouna Kone and Darron Gibson will again be his only missing players.

He said: "As you can imagine, there were a few knocks and bruises from Wednesday but nothing to stop the players being available on Sunday, so we'll have exactly the same situation we had going into the Manchester United game.

"With Arouna, we have started the first part of his recovery and I think he's going to be a long-term, as we expected. I don't think we're going to see Arouna this season. If we can get him back for the final two months of the competition, he will have done really, really well.

"Darron Gibson, in the same manner, we're hoping that we can see him before the season ends but clearly he's a long-term injury as well."

Martinez confirmed that Antolin Alcaraz is fully fit and that he is waiting for the optimum opportunity to add him to a matchday squad.

Everton will be back at Goodison Park on 14 December to take on Fulham. Click here to book your seat to join them.

Alternatively, call 0871 663 1878*, visit the Park End box office or Everton Two and TicketQuarter, both located in Liverpool city centre.

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