Leighton Baines says he is eager to “get his teeth into the rest of the season” after playing a key role on his comeback in Everton’s convincing 2-0 win over Brighton & Hove Albion on Saturday.
Making his first Blues appearance since 26 November when he suffered a calf injury at Southampton, the left-back got through the full 90 minutes and produced an impressive display, setting up Cenk Tosun for his maiden Goodison goal as the Toffees continued their commanding home form under manager Sam Allardyce.
Everton have taken 20 points from the past 27 points available at the Grand Old Lady since the 4-0 success over West Ham on 30 November, the eve of Allardyce's appointment.
Saturday’s clash against Brighton was the first time the Blues boss had been able to call on Baines and the 33-year-old once again showed his value to the team.
As well as being part of a back four that kept a clean sheet against a Seagulls side which went into the match unbeaten in their past seven games, Baines was also a constant threat in attack.
He finished with 89.8 per cent passing accuracy on Saturday, a statistic bettered by only Tom Davies (91.2 per cent), while his link-up play with Yannick Bolasie down the left-hand side was one of many highlights in an effervescent Everton performance.
Baines confirmed he felt no after-effects following the victory and reiterated Allardyce's post-match thoughts that the Blues can now look up the table in a bid to end the season strongly.
“I had no problems,” Baines told evertontv. “It was a great game to come back into and get a bit of extra fitness. You cannot get that anywhere else.
“You are never sure when you come back in – until you get into a proper game – what your fitness levels will be like.
“But I felt quite comfortable. I had the experience to look after myself and when the onus is on us to go and win the game – we have so many attacking players in the team – to assess those moments when we are going forward and I can potentially join in.
“I am pleased to be back and looking forward to getting my teeth into the tail end of the season.”
Baines is now focusing on Everton’s final eight league games and was particularly buoyed by Tosun's performance against Brighton – the former Besiktas striker's rasping finish on Saturday was his second goal in as many games.
Baines was eager to praise the Turkey international's all-round performance and says it was evidence the 26-year-old is starting to feel “at home” since his January arrival.
“I thought he was brilliant,” said the defender, who joined Everton in the summer of 2007. “He did all the ugly things really well, he gave us a good focal point and brought other people into the game.
“I thought his all-round play was great and he deserved his goal. He gives us a lot on the pitch and has settled into the dressing room really well. He is a good lad, has a great character and I think you can see that on the pitch.
“He looks comfortable, he looks at home and he is up and running with his goals now. That is great for us."