The last Everton player to remain untainted by Sam Allardyce and his toxic tactics says he can’t wait to get back in the fray.
Leighton Baines hasn’t played for Everton since he left the pitch injured against Southampton in the end of November during David Unsworth’s interim tenure, and hasn’t even trained for Allardyce since the latest manager took over.
However it appears the ageing left-back is getting closer to a return, and spoke to evertonfc.com about Allardyce.
“There is a new manager to impress and I have not had the opportunity to train under him or be a part of it at all since he has come in. That’s always nice in some respects because you have that little bit more to prove as he doesn’t know you.
“Hopefully I can get back into training soon and when I do, I hope to be reasonable enough shape to do myself justice.”
He has been trying to keep his mind on football while he has been recuperating.
“It is always an interesting time when you are out, I find, because your focus is so much on football when you are playing and I schedule my life around it. When you haven’t got games, it’s not as necessary to go and recover from a training session or a match so it changes the structure of your life.
“But at the moment, the workload is big and I have got to recover from the sessions. My diet is always important but particularly when you are out injured and you can’t train you have to pay close attention to that.
“But it is almost like muscle memory – I am reverting back to that regime I have had for the last 15 years or whatever it has been.”
Baines is also aware of how lonely it is sometimes when you’re not training with the squad and playing games.
“The lads have obviously helped but when you are injured, it is a bit solitary. You are in and around the place but you are on a different schedule. Sometimes you are in when everyone else is off, or your day off might fall on when everyone is in. That’s the way it works and your focus is just on getting back fit.
“Earlier in my career it was harder to keep spirits up because it had never happened before and it was a new experience. Your life – everything - revolves around football.
“But over the course of time, and you have a few more injuries and you learn how to deal with it a bit better. You turn to your family.
“It is never easy and never nice, but you come to terms with the fact that it has happened. You can’t change it so you just move forward with what you are going to do to make yourself better.”
The 33-year-old hasn’t been on his best form this season especially, but the Blues kept faith in him choosing not to find a long-term solution at the position over two consecutive transfer windows. Hopefully once he returns we can see the best of him for at least this season and maybe one more when his contract expires in the summer of 2019.
Until then though, here’s wishing him well on his recovery and hoping for a quick return to the pitch.