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Baines' New Year Cheer

by Daniel Alston @efc_danalston

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Leighton Baines says he is delighted to be back on the pitch in time for 2014.

The Blues left-back played the full 90 minutes against Southampton on Sunday - his first outing since fracturing a toe in November's Merseyside derby.

It was a rare spell of absence for the usually ever-present England man, who played every minute of Everton's Premier League campaign last term.

And with the games continuing to come thick and fast at the turn of the year, Baines is hungry for more action after admitting he can't sit comfortably on the sidelines.

He told evertontv: "It was definitely good to be back. It was strange missing a few games and I definitely found out that I'm a nervous spectator when it comes to the games, whether it be here [at Goodison Park] or watching them at home on the television.

"I tend to feel sick with nerves, so I feel a lot better when I'm out there playing. I enjoyed getting back and playing 90 minutes."

With a trip to Stoke on Wednesday and Saturday's FA Cup hosting of QPR, it's a busy week for the Blues.

But after reporting no reaction to his injury after victory over the Saints, Baines is ready to play his part in the second half of the season.

"It's okay," he commented when asked about his toe.

"My own mindset is getting through these next couple of games, so it will be three games in a week. Hopefully it will be perfect after that and it will be back to normal. I'll take it a game at a time for now but that's the plan.

"I will get through the next game hopefully and see where it is at but it slows down after that to just one game a week which is a nicer schedule."

Having done a sterling job in deputising for the 29-year-old in recent weeks, Bryan Oviedo was pushed forward to an advanced position on the left against Southampton forming a partnership for the first time this term.

"Bryan has done great," added Baines. "He's played in front of me today and he's equally as comfortable in that role as well.

"He's done a great job and he's made a great effort over the last few weeks to come in out of the cold and play as well as he has.

"That's great and we are going to need everyone. There's other players to come back and we have seen that the manager is quite savvy in how to utilise the squad, bringing players in an out. That will be important for the rest of the season."

Everton are next at Goodison in the FA Cup third round. Buy tickets for the third round tie against Queens Park Rangers online here and print them at home. Or watch the game in style by booking hospitality in one of the stylish lounges here.

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