Kone Targets Training Return

by Adam Clark

Determined Arouna Kone says he is desperate to bounce back from his difficult first season at Everton and repay the faith shown in him by manager Roberto Martinez.

Kone followed the Spaniard from Wigan Athletic last summer, having netted 13 goals in 38 outings for the Latics.

But the Ivorian international made just one start and five substitute appearances at the dawn of the current campaign before being struck by serious knee injury in October's 2-1 win over Hull City.

Kone, who is currently in Thailand visiting main Club sponsor Chang, expects to return to full training within a month and hasn't ruled out making further run outs for the Blues this term.

He also says the tough experience he has endured has made him hungry to repay not only his manager, but the fans who have helped him through his frustrating ordeal.

"I'm feeling far better," Kone told evertonfc.com. "It's been a long time in the gym but I have some great friends at Everton who have kept me going.

"I've worked closely with Matt Connery, one of the physios, and now I'm hoping to be back in training in three or four weeks.

"It's been difficult just doing nothing as a player but the hard times have passed.

"Next season will be massive for me. I want to play every game and make up for lost time. Goals will be my priority obviously. I want to help get us into the top four.

"I came here because of Roberto and it was always my objective to carry on working with him when he left Wigan and took over at Everton.

"He is the best in the Premier League. He gives us the two technical insights of England and Spain, where I have also played.

"I have progressed enormously as a player under him. Every day you learn under him. He speaks so well with the players and makes us more confident. He is a people-person who gets close to his players."

Kone has been joined in the Everton treatment room by fellow long-term injury victims Darron Gibson and Bryan Oviedo.

The 30-year-old admits the camaraderie between the trio has proved a welcome source of motivation and says he's also had advice for fellow striker Lacina Traore, his compatriot having suffered a similarly injury-stunted start to his time at Goodison Park.

He said: "Bryan and Gibbo have been supporting me all the way along. We call each other every day and there is brilliant team spirit here but especially with us three because of our shared experience.

"Lacina is also going through a difficult time but I've given him advice. I played with Lacina's brother years ago back in Ivory Coast. Lacina is a good player who will really add something when he's fit.  

"It's sad for him but he will be back stronger too, I'm sure."

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