Roberto Martinez comments on bringing Leighton Baines back into Everton side

Leighton Baines is in line for a return to the first team very soon, but won't be rushed.

Everton manager Roberto Martinez has told the Liverpool Echo that he will not be rushing Leighton Baines back from an ankle injury that has kept him sidelined for the season so far.

The Everton boss has managed to call upon youngster Brendan Galloway and Bryan Oviedo in the absence of Baines, with the former in particular impressing in the role.

As a result, it perhaps gives Martinez the option of easing Baines back into action and building up his fitness rather than throwing him into the starting XI straight away.

Martinez said: “He has enjoyed a really successful period but he needs to get his confidence back and it is about finding that match tempo.

“The game behind-closed-doors was a real success. He played for 90 minutes at a really good tempo in everything he did.

“But we won’t put pressure on Leighton and won’t be throwing him in.

“We must air on the side of caution and make sure there are no reactions."

It is a timely return for Baines given that the fixture schedule is about to get a little busier with the festive period only a month away, while his side are still involved in the League Cup - with a quarter-final tie against Middlesbrough not far away. 

One thing that Baines's absence has allowed is for competition to be established in that particular area of the side. If there's anything that Everton may have been lacking as a whole for recent years it is competition for places, and Martinez acknowledged in the same interview that it can lead to higher standards, therefore only making it a good thing.

It will be interesting to see in the coming weeks and months, if they are both fit, just how much game time both Galloway and Baines will get. The more experienced Baines may get more game time as the season goes on, but he is going to face a fight for his place along the way.

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