Yannick Bolasie says he will return from his injury “hungry and refreshed” - and ready to help Everton climb the Premier League table.
The winger still does not know exactly when he will make his long-awaited comeback from the knee ligament injury he sustained in December last year but will learn more from his latest round of assessments this week.
Bolasie, a 2016 summer signing from Crystal Palace, scored once in 15 appearances before his maiden campaign with the Club was cruelly cut short.
However, after 11 months on the sidelines, the 28-year-old is encouraged to finally see light at the end of the tunnel, and says he hopes the hard work he has put in off the pitch will see him rejoin the first-team group a more rounded player.
“I tend to distance myself [when I’m injured] but now that I am getting there, I am starting to watch and go to games again and I feel like I am close, and that is the main thing,” said Bolasie.
“At the end of last season it was hard because I was far away, so seeing a game and thinking I wanted to be out there… it was tough.
“It’s been almost a year but I don’t think of it like that because in that year I have been given the chance to develop myself and develop things I would have taken for granted before. That has taken up my time and the whole package has come together, so I’m buzzing, really, and happy with where I am at.
“I want to come back feeling refreshed and hungry.”
In Bolasie’s absence, Everton have endured a tricky start to the 2017/18 campaign and sit 18th in the Premier League following Sunday’s 2-0 defeat at Leicester City.
However, the DR Congo international is tipping the Toffees to quickly find their feet, and is excited he’ll soon be bolstering the Blues ranks.
"It’s never an easy period when you are losing but I think everyone understands that the team has to gel," added Bolasie. "We have quite a few new players, it’s happened to teams in the past, but the boys are working hard to make it right.
“With everything that is going on, hopefully I can come in and give a boost to the team and I am confident that they will be confident when I come in. If the team is confident, then that helps you even more, and that makes it better for me to come back and slot in that little bit easier.
“I look forward to coming back and impressing the fans, too, and showing what I can really do," he continued. "To be honest, I thought I was doing alright until I got injured.
“I knew in myself that I didn’t have the sharpness I normally possess, and I knew it would take games, because I didn’t have a proper pre-season.
“But I don’t make excuses and I will come back and show what I am really about.”
Bolasie has also been busy using his time away from the pitch to make a positive impact in the community.
In January, he helped his former employers Hillingdon Borough stave off closure and last week the winger returned to the same club to host a three-a-side freestyle football tournament for 16 to 22-year-olds.
The concept, devised by Bolasie and elite performance coach Rayan Wilson and called YB3, is played on an octagonal pitch and designed to help players develop their close control and decision-making.
“It’s an idea that I had in my head, I’ve followed it up and it’s been pulled together really well,” Bolasie explained.
“I wish I had something like this when I was their age and I’m happy I can host an event like this. I saw some players who could definitely teach me a trick or two!
“I would like to do this back in Congo as well. There’s a lot of people there who haven’t a lot to do so, in their free time, why not?
“If people can come and enjoy football…. that’s what I’ve been brought up doing.
“For me, to host a tournament like this, I feel honoured.”