Report: Everton to be boosted as Leighton Baines steps up return to fitness

Leighton Baines is stepping up his return as he plays in a behind-the-doors friendly this week.

Everton are set to be boosted by the return of key defender Leighton Baines as the defender steps up his recovery from injury, reports the club’s official website.

The defender is one of several Blues stars on the long-term injury list, with the likes of Tom Cleverley, Muhamed Besic and Steven Pienaar all also looking to return to the first team in the coming weeks.

Unlike that trio, Baines is yet to feature for the side this season, having picked up an ankle injury on the eve of the new campaign after impressing in a strong pre-season for the Toffees.

With the international break now upon us, he is preparing to step up his return to full fitness by featuring in a behind-closed doors friendly in a bid to boost his match fitness, reports

And Baines says that he is hoping to progress through this stage of his recovery as quickly as possible as he eyes a return to competitive action.

“I feel really fit in that sense but you have to get football fitness and match fitness, so that’s the process we are in at the moment.

“Hopefully because of all the work I’ve done - I’ve got a large volume of work over the last few months behind me - that will stand me in good stead and I can progress through this stage quite quickly.”

The news will likely come as a huge boost to manager Roberto Martinez, who has had to make do with youngster Brendan Galloway in the position for most of the campaign so far.

That has worked out well for them, with the young defender putting in a series of performances that have belied his age, and he is sure to be fierce competition for Baines on his return.

For now, though, Everton will just be focused on having their first-choice left back at full-fitness as they enter a key period of the campaign.

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