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FK Krasnodar (A) Thu 2 Oct 2014, 17:00, Europa League

Baines Nearing Return

by Rob Urbani @efc_roburbani

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Leighton Baines is closing in on a return to action for the Blues over the festive period.
 
Roberto Martinez has described the prospect of having the England left-back fit for the holiday period as 'a beautiful Christmas present'.
 
Baines suffered a fractured toe during the dramatic 3-3 derby clash with Liverpool last month.
 
The manager 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.
 
Having seen Bryan Oviedo deputise so impressively for Baines, the Goodison chief is relishing the prospect of a selection headache.
 
He told evertonfc.com: "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.
 
"It just depends on how the next two days show in his foot. 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."
 
The Blues travel to Swansea on Sunday before facing two matches at Goodison in three days between Christmas and New Year, beginning with the visit of Sunderland on Boxing Day before an early kick-off against Southampton on Sunday, December 29.
 
The hectic nature of the festive period is a headache for the manager and he admits he will need to make full use of the depth in his squad.
 
He added: "The headache at left-back is the sort of headache that you want. You would love to have that problem everywhere across the park. We have that in other areas and we have been using it really well when players are hitting good moments of form.

"The team are benefiting from that, particularly when you have a team that plays as we do from a physical point of view wanting to be on the ball. When you have three games in a week, you need more than 11 players so I want everyone to be fully fit and ready to help the team."
 
Tickets to the Boxing Day visit of Sunderland and the 29 December game against Southampton are on sale but selling fast. Click here to buy online or call 0871 663 1878*, visit the Box Office, Everton Two or TicketQuarter.

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