David Unsworth has spoken of his delight at being able to include Yannick Bolasie for part of Wednesday’s first-team training session at USM Finch Farm - and revealed James McCarthy and Ross Barkley won’t be far behind.
Bolasie was greeted by a round of applause from his Everton teammates as he took part in his first ball work drill, almost 12 months after suffering a serious knee injury in a game against Manchester United.
Speaking at his press conference ahead of the Europa League visit of Atalanta on Thursday, Unsworth described Bolasie as “a top, proven Premier League player” and said he expects the winger to make a big impact once he is fully ready for his first-team return.
McCarthy and Barkley, meanwhile, are both working their way back from respective hamstring problems.
Unsworth also confirmed the Blues will be without Mason Holgate and Phil Jagielka against the Italians, though the latter is expected to train ahead of Sunday’s Premier League trip to Southampton.
“Yannick trained with us this morning for the first time,” said Unsworth. “He’s had a couple of sessions with the Under-23s but we had a light session this morning and it was great to see him out there.
“We’re just gradually integrating him back into the first team set-up. He’s a top player, a proven Premier League player and he’s got great pace - something that we need. He scores goals, creates goals and he’s a big player for us, so to get him back, hopefully sooner rather than later and alongside James McCarthy, Seamus Coleman and Ross Barkley - to get those proven Premier League players back into the team and into the squad will be a big plus for us.
“James McCarthy is a couple of weeks away, Ross maybe a couple of weeks away, as well. Those players, they’re starting to filter back in or in and around the first-team training.
“There’s still a bit of conditioning work to be done with all of them but it’s nice to see them back out on the grass or nearly out on the grass.
“We need those players back as quickly as possible because they’re great players.
"Mason is recovering really well from his groin injury and Phil’s had a couple of days off now so he’s not involved. He will probably train again on Thursday or Friday.”
Morgan Schneiderlin, suspended for Thursday’s game after being sent off in Lyon, is nursing a toe problem but should be in contention for the game at his former club Southampton.
Unsworth added: “Morgan came off at half-time. He had an injection in his toe before the start of the Crystal Palace game and he was really uncomfortable with it in the first half.
“We’ve taken a precaution with it - he was suspended anyway - so he’s had a couple of down days and hopefully we’ll get Morgan back into training on Friday and see how he is.”