Leighton Baines closing on return from ankle injury - Roberto Martinez

Everton manager Roberto Martinez has said left-back Leighton Baines is set to return from an ankle injury early next month.

The England international missed the end of last season to have surgery on his ankle, but then aggravated the problem in an unusual preseason training ground incident.

Baines was ruled out for three months when he was hit on the ankle with a ball while preparing for Everton's opening match against Watford.

But the defender, along with fellow injury absentees John Stones, Steven Pienaar and Tom Cleverley, is close to a comeback.

Martinez said: "Leighton Baines has been given the all clear to step up the final stages of his recovery.

"John Stones, Steven Pienaar and Tom Cleverley have rejoined the group and are working really well. They're obviously at different stages.

"At a different level, Tony Hibbert and Mo Besic are progressing really, really well.

"I expect everyone to be fully fit over the next three to four weeks. We should have everyone ready before the next international break."

Stones has been recovering from a knee injury, Cleverley an ankle problem, while Pieenar and Besic have been struggling with hamstring trouble. Hibbert suffered a knee injury in preseason.

The return of Baines is a significant boost for Martinez, although both Brendan Galloway and Bryan Oviedo have impressed at let-back in his absence.

Martinez said: "He's not far off at all. When you get to know Leighton, you learn not to set a time to come back, because we'll always get ahead of the expected time.

"We had a very good two weeks work with Leighton. I think he's ready now to join the group. It'll be more about getting him that match practice and introducing him back into the team.

"I think two weeks is probably the right period of time that he needs to work in order to come back really strong and be able to stay fit for the rest of the season."

Martinez, meanwhile, has laughed off suggestions that Wayne Rooney might rejoin Everton in the near future.

The England captain returns to his first club with Manchester United in the Premier League on Saturday.

He did pull on an Everton shirt in preseason, when he played against Villarreal in a testimonial for former Toffees striker Duncan Ferguson.

But Martinez insists he has no plans to bring back Rooney, who left Goodison Park for Old Trafford in 2004.

The Everton boss said: "I don't know if we have any more testimonials coming up for Wayne to play in. He's the captain of Manchester United.

"He came through the ranks at Everton, and he's an inspiration for the young players coming through here, but that's as far as it goes."