Michael Keane is tipping Yannick Bolasie to be “a big player for Everton” and says it is a “bonus” to have the explosive winger back in the Toffees' fold.
Bolasie spent more than a year on the sidelines after rupturing the cruciate knee ligament in his right knee during a match against Manchester United in December 2016.
The 28-year-old had played 14 Premier League games for the Blues and scored one goal following his arrival from Crystal Palace on a five-year deal early in the 2016/17 campaign – before he was struck down in the match at Goodison Park.
He made his long-awaited return in the Boxing Day draw with West Bromwich Albion, then continued his comeback with a 19-minute outing at Bournemouth.
Bolasie subsequently started the clash with Manchester United on New Year's Day, when he marked his first Goodison appearance for more than 12 months with an encouraging display, full of enterprise and intent.
The DR Congo international was particularly prominent during the opening half, driving beyond United right-back Victor Lindelof to deliver a series of crosses and showcasing a few flicks and tricks from his expansive repertoire.
“He is something different,” centre-back Keane told evertontv.
“You saw in the first half [against United] the way he can take people on and cross the ball from both sides with his left and right foot.
“He is going to be a big player for us. Once he gets fitter and fitter, he will only get better as well. It is a big bonus to have him back.
“I think so [he will be a key player]. When we play against teams like Manchester United, we know they are going to have quite a lot of the ball and we might have to sit in at times – but if we have got players like Yannick, we can catch them on the counter.
“We did that a few times, especially in the first half, but we just need to show a bit more quality to create the chances and score goals.”
Keane was recalled by manager Sam Allardyce for Everton’s pre-Christmas meeting with Chelsea following a brief spell out of the team.
The England defender, signed from Burnley in the summer, has played every minute of Premier League football in the intervening period, which featured the stalemate with West Brom and a late defeat at Bournemouth – before Monday night’s 2-0 loss to United.
Keane admitted the Blues paid a heavy price for dropping their intensity after the interval against Jose Mourinho’s side – with both Red Devils goals coming in the second half.
And following a four-match period that has seen Everton score just one goal – after hitting 14 in their previous six games – former Manchester United player Keane insists it is imperative for the Blues to relocate their penalty-box ruthlessness.
“We’ve been searching for it [our cutting edge] for a while,” said Keane.
“We’ve not scored a lot of goals lately and we’ve not created a lot of chances. That’s something we need to do and we are working on it, it’s just not happening at the minute. We need to show more quality in the final third and I’m sure it will come.
“I thought in the first half against United we did alright. We contained them to few chances, if any, and got some half chances of our own. We got some good crosses into the box but didn’t get enough men in there.
“The second half we came out and sat off too much, let them have the ball in our half too much, and they punished us with two good goals.”