Yannick Bolasie says he is determined to repay Evertonians for their "incredible" support after making what he called his “second debut” against West Bromwich Albion.
The winger, a summer 2016 signing from Crystal Palace, returned to action at the Hawthorns on Boxing Day - coincidently at the same venue where he made the first of 15 Blues appearances before suffering a serious cruciate knee ligament injury last December.
And having admitted he feared for his career during his prolonged spell on the sidelines, the 28-year-old is now desperate to make up for lost time.
“This was what I’ll call my second Everton debut against West Brom because when I first came my first game was against West Brom as well,” said Bolasie.
“Personally, I’ve played down the injury massively because it was career-threatening. But to be back where I am today is incredible and I want to thank the staff at Everton, the medical staff, my personal physio and my family for sticking by me, because it’s been a long old journey. Hopefully I can carry on and get stronger now.”
Bolasie, who managed 61 minutes in the West Midlands, underwent two separate operations to correct the problem he sustained during a game against Manchester United at Goodison Park and could now be in line for more action when the Red Devils return to the Blue half of Merseyside on New Year’s Day.
A long trip to Bournemouth is first up for the Toffees on Saturday however, and Bolasie is just happy to be back involved with the matches coming thick and fast.
“There’s time when you don’t know where the end of the road is, or you don’t know when you’re going to be back playing or training,” he explained. “It’s hard to see. When I started seeing a little bit of light for myself, that was great. But playing again has just been a blessing.
“I didn’t want to come back and just have my name on my shirt and not be the same kind of player. But [on Tuesday] I felt that with a bit more match sharpness I’ll probably be even better.
“It’s a fresh start for myself. I think when I came to Everton, I didn’t really have a pre-season and I wasn’t fit, so there was a lot of catching up to do.
“Now I hope to kick on and show the fans what I’m about. I feel like I want to thank them all individually. Their support has been incredible.”
The goalless draw with the Baggies extended Everton’s unbeaten run to eight games and the DR Congo international admits the transition from the treatment room to the training pitch has been easier with the team finally looking up.
“That always helps,” he added. “I’ve been speaking to Seamus [Coleman] and we’ve been saying we want to come back into a winning team because if the team’s confident then it makes it simpler to settle back in.
“I’ve been lucky enough to come back into a good run that we’re on at the minute, and it’s carrying on.
“Tuesday was a slightly different game but the end result was that we got a point. I got a good hour and we go again against Bournemouth.”