Young defender closing in on first-team return to ease Everton's defensive crisis

Brendan Galloway is back in full training after more than three months out and played 90 minutes for the under-21s side this week.

Everton are a beleaguered club at the moment, suffering a poor season and in the midst of a defensive crisis, but the latter of those issues could be eased with the return of Brendan Galloway following a lengthy absence, as reported by the Liverpool Echo.

Galloway has made 19 appearances in the Toffees backline this season but has been out of action since the end of January after suffering a knee injury.

With Phil Jagielka and Seamus Coleman currently injured and Ramiro Funes Mori suspended after his Merseyside derby red card, Roberto Martinez has had to piece together something of a makeshift defence in recent weeks.

Midfielder Mo Besic filled in at right-back for the first half of the win over Bournemouth at the weekend before Tony Hibbert came on for a first appearance in a year-and-a-half, whilst youngster Matthew Pennington lined up alongside John Stones at the heart of defence.

However, the Echo claims that Galloway is now back in contention after he played the full 90 minutes of the final match of the under-21s season earlier this week.

That will come as a huge relief to Martinez as he tried to build upon Saturday's victory - a first in the league since 1 March and a first at home since 3 February - by stringing together some positive results.

The Spaniard's job is coming under increasing pressure as the Toffees look set for a second-consecutive bottom-half finish under the former Wigan boss.

Everton travel to title-chasing Leicester City next weekend before a trip to Sunderland and a home clash with Norwich City to round off their campaign.

Register for EVERTON team updates

Register for HITC Sport - Daily Dispatch