Arouna Kone is sacrificing a summer holiday to ensure he’s back fit for Everton’s pre-season.
The striker has been missing from the first-team fold since October when he suffered a knee injury against Hull City.
Since then he has been working hard on his rehabilitation - and that hasn’t stopped because of the end of the Premier League season.
Kone, 30, will forego an annual trip back to the Ivory Coast this summer and is planning to return for pre-season training earlier than his Everton teammates.
He told evertontv: “The most important thing is for me to be in the best possible shape I can be for the start of next season.
“That is why I am not going on holiday, I am staying in Europe to work hard over the summer period, so I can hit the ground running when pre-season starts in July.
“I spent the first three months of my rehab in Belgium and the manager (Roberto Martinez) was in constant contact.
“His advice and the confidence he has shown me has really helped me through this period.
“The plan is to go back to Belgium, to the rehab centre where I have been working, then I will come back to Finch Farm for a fitness check. Then I will go back to Belgium but I will be back before the rest of the team to start pre-season.”
Kone admitted it has been a largely frustrating 11 months since his switch to Everton from Wigan. But he takes solace in envisioning himself profiting from the attacking style of play the Blues have embraced since Martinez’s arrival.
He said: “As a team Everton have had a fantastic season which gives me a huge motivation to prepare for next season.
“On a personal side, it has not gone as I’d hoped. I look back with a bit of pain. I have not played as many games as I would have liked due to this injury. It is something I never thought would have happened.
“It is painful to sit in the stands and watch. I would often say to myself that the style of play I was watching would suit me down to the ground.”