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Baines Back For Boxing Day

by Adam Clark @efc_adamclark

Leighton Baines is in line to make his return from injury against Sunderland on Boxing Day, Roberto Martinez has confirmed.

The left-back has missed five games since fracturing a toe in last month's 3-3 draw with Liverpool but should be fit to feature against the Black Cats.

Martinez also confirmed striker Nikica Jelavic missed Sunday's win at Swansea after feeling a tightness in his hamstring during the warm-up at the Liberty Stadium, meaning he will need to be assessed in the coming days.

South African Steven Pienaar should be fine after limping out of the victory in South Wales, while Sylvain Distin is also set to overcome a minor knock.

"Leighton Baines is getting really close and I think it's fair to say that, depending how today and tomorrow go, he should be available for Wednesday, which is terrific news," said Martinez.

"We didn't pick up any knocks yesterday, only Nikica Jelavic who, before the game, felt his hamstring a little bit. But he should be fine for Wednesday as it's only a minor injury.

"Stevie should be fine. We'll assess him today but I think 48 hours should be enough time for him to shake the knock off.

"And Sylvain had a knock, but he's fine and I don't expect anyone to be missing the squad on Wednesday."

Costa Rican Bryan Oviedo has deputised to great effect as Everton have remained unbeaten throughout Baines' absence and Martinez added that he is happy to have the pair vying for one position.

He said: "Of course we have missed Leighton because you can't underestimate the quality, experience and know-how of Leighton and what he represents.

"We have an incredible replacement in Bryan Oviedo, who has been terrific. But you want good players in good moments of form to be available.

"We are desperate to have Leighton Baines back and we're desperate to have Bryan Oviedo in that moment of form so we can use them well for the team."

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