Andre Gomes has lavished praise on Everton's quick-thinking medical staff, saying their instinctive actions gave him the best possible chance to make his incredible recovery from a fractured ankle.
Despite initial doubts he would feature again during the 2019/20 season, Gomes played the final 30 minutes of last Sunday's game at Arsenal just 112 days after suffering the injury in a home game against Tottenham Hotspur in November.
The Portugal international is now set to make his Goodison Park return against Manchester United this weekend and is already relishing the opportunity to thank the staff and Evertonians who have supported him through his intensive rehabilitation.
Everton Club doctor John Hollingsworth reset Gomes' ankle after being one of the first to rush to his aid when he fell to the turf with 12 minutes of the Tottenham contest remaining.
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GOMES ON HIS RECOVERY AND THE SUPPORT OF HIS EVERTON 'FAMILY'
Gomes believes Hollingsworth's decisive response, along with that of other Club medics in getting the 26-year-old immediate medical attention, contributed to him being able to have surgery the following day and, ultimately, begin his comeback programme within a matter of weeks.
After a period of intense physiotherapy and strengthening work in his Portuguese homeland, Gomes underwent his first outdoor training session on New Year’s Day - just 59 days after suffering the injury.
He returned to USM Finch Farm a fortnight later, and was back in first-team training alongside his teammates by 30 January.
Gomes took part in an inter-squad behind closed doors game on Sunday 16 February, before stepping off the bench at Emirates Stadium last weekend.
"I work with really, really good professionals and they were there from the first moment," Gomes told evertontv. "They helped me with everything, they helped my family as well, because it's not easy.
"[Doctor Hollingsworth's actions] were really, really important.
"I knew that he wanted to put my foot in the right place. Obviously I had adrenaline, I was upset, but I knew what was supposed to [happen] with these types of injuries, or at least [to act] as fast as you can.
Above - Gomes with Everton's "brilliant" medical team. Below - Gomes alongside Everton first-team physiotherapist Adam Newall (left) and Club doctor John Hollingsworth.
"The doctor, he put my foot in the right place so it was really easy to mobilise my ankle and go to the hospital. It was really massive work, great.
“And maybe that helped a lot on my recovery and maybe to be able to have surgery straight away the next day.
"If he hadn't done that, once I got to hospital, I don't want to say it would have been too late, but the more time in that wrong position, probably it would have been worse and more painful for me.
"Basically, the doc did a brilliant job. I was feeling everything in that moment [on the pitch] - I was aware of it and, for me, it was much better to have the help of the doctor in that moment than maybe 10, 20 or 30 minutes after.”
Everton welcome Manchester United to Goodison on Sunday looking to continue an unbeaten home run that extends back to a 3-1 victory over Chelsea in Duncan Ferguson's first game in temporary charge on 7 December.
Ferguson was also in the dugout for a goalless draw with Arsenal before Carlo Ancelotti's appointment as Everton boss prior to Christmas, since which time the Italian has overseen Goodison wins against Burnley, Brighton and Crystal Palace, as well as a draw with Newcastle United.
Speaking at his pre-match press conference on Friday, Ancelotti hinted he believes Gomes is ready to start against Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's Red Devils and that he will keep an open dialogue with the midfielder before making a final decision ahead of kick-off.
"If I feel good and the manager wants me to start then I will say 'yes' but we go day-by-day and decide at the end of the week," said Gomes.
"Carlo has a lot of experience as a football player and a manager, everybody respects him and he’s a really smart guy, and he’s helping us.
"We’ve had really good results in the last two months and he has been really important for us.
"We are improving day by day.
"If I play, I think it will be unbelievable. It will be good to be back at home.
"I was there already to watch the games from the stand but it's not the same. I'm looking forward to being back with my family - with all Evertonians - and I want the three points.
"And to say thank you to everyone who was there to help me.
"Everybody was great on my recovery. Honestly, I was the person with the issue but everybody was involved in my recovery - not only family but friends, staff, physios, my teammates as well, Evertonians, fans in general all around the world - everyone was really good.
"I felt the confidence to work hard to come back as soon as possible, so for that I'm really thankful for everyone."