Yannick Bolasie insists a win over Tottenham Hotspur in his “backyard” would "bring a totally different confidence" to Everton.
The Blues winger grew up a stone’s throw away from Wembley – Spurs’ temporary ground for the 2017/18 season while work continues on their new stadium in north London – in Willesden and could see the national stadium from the bedroom window of his childhood home.
Bolasie is excited to be heading back to the capital to play at one of football's most iconic venues after taking no time to get into his stride again for the Toffees. Despite missing a year of action because of a knee injury suffered against Manchester United in December 2016, the 28-year-old has already played more than 230 minutes of football since being handed a start in the draw at West Brom on Boxing Day.
That spell included a hugely-impressive performance in last week's FA Cup tie at Liverpool, when the DR Congo international played the entire match and started the counter-attack which led to Gylfi Sigurdsson's equaliser.
Despite losing 2-1, Bolasie believes the Blues can take plenty of encouragement from their display at Anfield. And, revealing he "has a few tricks up his sleeve for Wembley" - the former Crystal Palace wide man insists success at Spurs on Saturday would give Everton the perfect platform for the second half of the season.
“You could call Wembley my backyard!” he told evertonfc.com. “You could also say this game is a bit of a cup final because Wembley is a place where you play cup finals. We had one last time out [against Liverpool in the FA Cup] and unfortunately we lost but there is another one coming up and I’m looking forward to it.
“We can definitely take confidence from our last game [against Liverpool]. If our performance is anywhere near the one in that game, then we can compete with any team in the league.
“If we can play like we did against Liverpool against Tottenham, and end up winning, then that would bring a totally different confidence to the team.
“And I have a few tricks up my sleeve for Wembley, too. I have been watching my clips back [from the games I’ve played] and there are a couple of things I am trying to correct.
“But I look forward to that – it excites me so I want to try it at Wembley.”
Bolasie has been surprised with how many minutes he has played since his return to the pitch from 12 months out with a cruciate ligament injury.
After an hour in the goalless draw at West Brom, he played 19 minutes at Bournemouth, another 60 in his first appearance back at Goodison Park against Manchester United, then the full 90 at Anfield.
And while that has helped him build up his match fitness, he says there is still work to be done to get up to full speed.
“I am confident I can come back better,” added Bolasie. “It will take time finding that routine again.
“I had a routine during rehab, but now it is about when you are playing. I had a structure on and off the pitch, when I was playing games. It is about getting back to that phase. Hopefully that will help with my vision and sharpness on the pitch.”