Mo Besic says he is feeling “really strong” after completing 90 minutes in Everton’s Algarve Football Cup encounter with Lille.
Midfielder Besic was one of his side’s standout performers in the 0-0 draw, sharp in the tackle and bristling with intent on the ball, not least when the Bosnian’s precise pass released Sandro Ramirez for a shot against the post late in the first half.
Besic capped a fine individual display by converting from the spot in a penalty shootout which Everton lost 5-3.
The 25-year-old spent the second half of last season on loan at Middlesbrough, playing 17 times for the Championship team, including both legs of their play-off semi-final with Aston Villa.
And Besic, whose 2016/17 campaign was wiped out by a serious knee injury, is confident his sustained period of action on Teesside will equip him for the fight for places in Everton’s engine room.
“I had two difficult seasons, then went to Middlesbrough and now I am fit again,” Besic told evertontv.
"I feel really strong, so it is good for me. I played for four months, it was the first time since I arrived in England that I played so many games in a row.
“I feel very confident. I know my qualities, they will not go away. It is just a matter of time. I like to take the ball and organise everything, that is my game.”
Besic will celebrate his four-year Goodison Park anniversary later this month. He featured in 23 Premier League games in his debut campaign after joining from Hungarian team Ferencavaros in summer 2014.
His second season on Merseyside was hampered by thigh and hamstring problems, albeit a string of excellent performances following the turn of the year in 2016 earned the former Hamburg man the Club’s January player of the month award.
The fit-again Besic, capped 31 times by his country and an ever-present in Bosnia’s 2014 World Cup finals campaign, is now seeking to recapture his best form ahead of the new season.
As such, he was phlegmatic about the outcome against Lille, insisting that Everton’s priority is to be ready for the Premier League opener against Wolves in three weeks.
And Besic believes Everton will be in for a sterner test against two-times European champions Porto in Faro on Sunday night, than the one presented by Lille in their opening Algarve fixture.
“We played okay up to 70 minutes. It was very difficult, the pitch was hard and it was about 30 degrees,” added Besic.
“I thought we did quite well. We can do better, of course, but it was just the third pre-season game and our first really good opponent. We did quite well.
“We do not worry about the result. We care about our game. The most important thing is the Premier League and the first match against Wolverhampton. If we win that it will be a good start, that is most important.
“Porto are a better team [than Lille] but we will see tomorrow.”