Sam Allardyce welcomed the return of influential right-back Seamus Coleman after confirming the Irishman will be included in Everton’s squad for Wednesday night’s Premier League meeting with Leicester City.
Coleman made his comeback last week when he completed 58 minutes of the Toffees' Under-23s' clash with Portsmouth – 10 months after suffering a double leg breaking playing for Republic of Ireland against Wales.
Boss Allardyce, who also confirmed Ramiro Funes Mori is training again with the Blues' first-team, is urging patience with Coleman, who last featured for Everton in a 4-0 victory over Hull City last March.
But he is delighted to have the 29-year-old at his disposal, as he seeks to turn around his side's form “as quickly as possible”.
“Seamus is in the squad for Wednesday and it seems, hopefully, that from here on in, he can have an injury-free run until the end of the season,” said Allardyce.
“He is a very important player. But, if and when he does play in the team, he needs time. He has been out an awful long time, as was the case with Yannick Bolasie [who was sidelined for 12 months with a knee injury before returning against West Bromwich Albion on Boxing Day].
“It was such a long period of time out that he cannot be expected to hit his top form immediately.
“But it is very important to have him back, and to have his influence not just as a player but as a person and a human being.”
Argentine defender Funes Mori has not played for the Blues since featuring in the same Goodison Park encounter with Hull which marked Coleman's most recent outing in an Everton shirt.
The 26-year-old, who was injured in action for his country against Bolivia, is edging his way back towards full fitness, while Allardyce is continuing to monitor the progress of left-back Luke Garbutt, who has been restored to the Toffees’ 25-man Premier League squad.
Allardyce also revealed that midfielder James McCarthy is resting in his home city of Glasgow following surgery last week on the double leg break he suffered against West Bromwich nine days ago. And the manager is already plotting to ensure 27-year-old McCarthy is given the best opportunity to recover as quickly as possible.
“James’ operation went well,” said Allardyce. “He is recuperating back in Glasgow. There is not an awful lot we can do with him just yet. Then we will bring him back and pick the right rehab programme for him – that may be away from the football club.
“There is a lot going on here day in, day out, so we might consider him getting his treatment somewhere else in Europe.
“We are taking it steady with Ramiro. He is training with the first-team but does not do the whole session yet. We are very protective of his knee and are monitoring that on a daily basis.
“We have put Luke Garbutt in the squad to have a look at him and time will tell on how we think he progresses.”
Everton drew their last Premier League game, against West Brom, and have not won any of their past six fixtures in the competition.
And Allardyce is urging his side to recapture the form they showed in the month following his arrival, when the Toffees shot up the table off the back of a seven-match unbeaten league run.
He is fully aware though, that Everton will have their work cut out to claim three points against a Leicester team that is in a rich vein of form – and has won eight and drawn six of its past 17 league fixtures.
“It will be a very difficult game,” said Allardyce. “We all know the threat posed by Riyad Mahrez, Jamie Vardy and Shinji Okazaki. And they are playing from a very solid base.
“We have to manage that first, then break them down when we get the opportunity. For us, it is about improving on our performance against West Brom.
“But that doesn’t look so bad now, after watching West Brom against Liverpool (the Baggies won 3-2 at Anfield in the FA Cup fourth round on Saturday).
“As difficult a day as that was, we managed to get a point from it and we have to push on from there.
“We are in a difficult position results wise and we have to turn that around as quickly as we can.
“We still have that balance of wanting to expand on our attacking football and to be creating chances and scoring, but never forgetting we have to get our clean-sheet record back on track.
“The focus for me is to get that right first, then look to create and get goals after that.”