Everton defender Leighton Baines is set to take another step towards a first-team recall but does not yet know when he will be ready to return.
The 30-year-old left-back has not featured at all this season after sustaining an ankle injury just before the campaign kicked off.
He will play in a behind-closed-doors friendly on Wednesday as he steps up his comeback but knows he is not yet close to being up to speed.
“It’s really difficult to judge because I’ve never been in this position before,” he told the Liverpool Echo.
“I played 90 minutes in pre-season (in a friendly against Villarreal) and that’s the only 90 minutes I’ve played in the past six months or so.
“In that six months I’ve probably spent a grand total of two weeks training with the team so it is new territory in that sense.
“But I’m trying to see it in the most positive light possible in that I’ve had a really good break.
“I’ve had two pre-seasons with a break in between and I feel really good for it and I hope to come back and be fully fit and ready to be available.
“I’ve done a lot of fitness work, a lot strength work but I am back into full training now and full contact and a we have a game this week so it is just about getting football fitness and match fitness now.
“I feel good in all other aspects so it is just about ticking those other boxes and with the work I’ve done over the last few months, hopefully that will stand me in good stead to progress through this next stage quite quickly.”
What is in Baines’ favour is the international break, which means he has another 10 days before Everton play again when Aston Villa visit Goodison on November 21.
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