manager Roberto Martinez has confirmed Leighton Baines is in line to return from injury against Sunderland on December 26.
The left back, who fractured his toe during last month’s 3-3 draw with Liverpool, has missed the Toffees’s’ last five games, including the 1-0 win at Old Trafford and the 1-1 draw at the Emirate Stadium few days later.
In the period of Baines’ absence, Costa Rican Brian Oviedo has stood in for him, even scoring a goal on his debut in a 4-0 thrashing of Stoke City.
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“Leighton Baines is getting really close and I think it’s fair to say that, depending how today and tomorrow go, he should be available for Wednesday, which is terrific news,” said Martinez.
Martinez also confirmed striker Nikica Jelavic missed Sunday’s win at Swansea after feeling a tightness in his hamstring during the warm-up at the Liberty Stadium, meaning he will need to be assessed in the coming days.
He said Steven Piennar, who limped out during Sunday’s 2-1 win at Swansea, should be back as Sylvain Distin is also set to overcome a minor knock.
“We didn’t pick up any knocks yesterday, only Nikica Jelavic who, before the game, felt his hamstring a little bit. But he should be fine for Wednesday as it’s only a minor injury,” he added.
“Stevie should be fine. We’ll assess him today but I think 48 hours should be enough time for him to shake the knock off.
“And Sylvain had a knock, but he’s fine and I don’t expect anyone to be missing the squad on Wednesday.”
The Goodison club boss expressed delights about the return of his prolific defender Baines but said he can’t wait to have him and Oviedo fight for one shirt in the coming weeks.
“Of course we have missed Leighton because you can’t underestimate the quality, experience and know-how of Leighton and what he represents.
“We have an incredible replacement in Bryan Oviedo, who has been terrific. But you want good players in good moments of form to be available.
“We are desperate to have Leighton Baines back and we’re desperate to have Bryan Oviedo in that moment of form so we can use them well for the team.”