Everton have been given a timely boost ahead of Sunday’s game against Brighton with the news that captain Phil Jagielka is fit to return after a hamstring injury.
Jagielka has been out for nearly a month after suffering the injury during the 4-0 thrashing at Man Utd on September 17.
In that time Everton have beaten Sunderland in the Carabao Cup and Bournemouth in the league, but also slipped to a disappointing draw against Apollon Limassol and that wretched 1-0 defeat to Burnley last time out.
Jagielka is likely to come straight back into the side at the Amex Stadium on Sunday given the team’s indifferent displays in his absence.
Ashley Williams has struggled for form and made a couple of basic errors that have led to goals in recent weeks.
The Wales defender looks like he needs some time out of the side to try and recapture his touch and confidence.
Leighton Baines has led the team in Jagielka’s absence but the 35-year-old is ready to take the armband again and lead the side out of the rut they currently find themselves in.
“The injury is all good now. The Burnley game came a day or two too early, but with the international break, hopefully training will go well and I will be pushing for selection.
“Leighton has been one of our best players and shown the way forward. That is all you can do. We all try to help motivate each other off the pitch but when the game starts it is all about doing the right things.
“It is a massive role for the captain, vice-captain and experienced players: to go out there and show that leadership through our performances.
“And, hopefully, once we get back from the international break we will put together a decent run and everyone will forget about the sticky start we have had.”