Sam Allardyce has confirmed Yannick Bolasie could make his injury comeback against Swansea this evening - but the Toffees boss will take no risks with his fitness.
Bolasie has been out for more than a year with a serious knee injury sustained against Manchester United at Goodison Park.
The DR Congo winger needed two operations before he could begin his rehabilitation and only got the all-clear to begin training outside in early autumn.
Bolasie has since returned to full training and has made two appearances for the U23s, clearing the way for a possible first-team return.
Allardyce has spoken regularly about his desire to get Everton’s injured players back fit and admits the team has missed Bolasie’s pace and creativity in-particular.
“The team has been crying out for what he offers. Yannick is blessed with dynamic movements and pace that cause defenders great concern. He probably occupies two players when he’s at his best because he’s such a danger in possession.
“He’s a player who has come from the lower leagues and built his way up to the top level of football.
“I always think those players have a great desire to achieve that. In the early part they’ve had people telling them they’re not good enough but their own drive, determination and belief is so strong they go on and, in Yannick’s case, arrive at Everton football club.
“It’s been a fantastic journey for him and because of that there’s a great opportunity for him to stay at the top level for as long as possible. Hopefully he will make a big contribution to our team when he comes back.”
Despite being ready for a return Allardyce is taking no risks with Bolasie’s comeback.
After more than a year out of the game, the 28-year-old will need to be reintroduced slowly in order to regain his match fitness.
Therefore expect a fleeting appearance at best from Bolasie against the Swans.
“It will be very pleasing to have him back in the squad but I will be very delicate with the introduction.
“At the very best it will be from the subs’ bench and the minutes he gets will have to be the right thing for him and the team as well, depending on how the game is going. We can’t expect too much.
“He will be a little rusty but if he does hit his level straight away that would be absolutely fantastic. He’s a big player to have back.
“Having spoken to Yannick I know he’s desperate to get back but we have to control that desire.
“It doesn’t matter how he thinks he feels, it’s about making sure we do the right process so that he’s back for a long period of time and he doesn’t injure that knee again.”
With Everton about to embark on a run of six games in 18 days, Bolasie’s return to fitness is a timely boost.
However, we cannot expect too much too soon, meaning it may be a while yet before we see the former Crystal Palace winger back to his best.