Sam Allardyce has confirmed that Leighton Baines could make his long awaited injury comeback at Watford on Saturday.
Baines hasn’t featured since the 4-1 defeat at Southampton at the end of November, leaving the team without a recognised left-back.
Cuco Martina has gamely played out of position but has his obvious limitations, while Luke Garbutt - belatedly added to Everton’s squad list last month - seemingly hasn’t done enough to impress.
Therefore, Baines’ return will be most welcome as the side look to end a miserable season on a high.
There wasn’t such good news on Seamus Coleman though. The Irishman picked up a muscle injury against Crystal Palace and may not be ready to return at Vicarage Road.
Allardyce also suggested Eliaquim Mangala’s injury might not quite be what they first feared.
Mangala suffered a knee injury against Crystal Palace a fortnight ago and early indications were the French defender would be out for the rest of the season.
However, Allardyce says the club are taking a second opinion on the injury to try and find out if there is any chance of the loan defender playing again.
“Mangala is out and Seamus Coleman looks like he will be struggling as well – but Leighton Baines has a chance of being in the squad for Watford.
“We are taking a second opinion on Mangala’s injury and what we have to try and achieve.
“It’s a very difficult thing to assess how long it’s going to take. We have to judge it week by week.”
Another left-sided defender, Ramiro Funes Mori, is also edging closer to a comeback.
The Argentine hasn’t played all season after undergoing knee surgery last summer, but has been back in training for the past month.
“I think Funes Mori will play in the U23s again this week and then he’ll be ready for the first team.”