Injured Baines targets festive fixtures

Leighton Baines is hoping to return from injury in time to play some part in Everton's run of festive fixtures.

Barkley 'an English diamond'

The England international has been out of action since breaking a toe in Everton's 3-3 draw with Merseyside rivals Liverpool in November.

Toffees boss Roberto Martinez said Baines was expected to be out for six weeks, which would mean he would be back playing into the New Year but the 29-year-old is hoping to feature in Everton's Christmas programme.

"The manager said early on it's quite a broad time frame that you can be looking at," he told evertontv. "We thought about different things, injections and stuff, but we didn't know whether that would set me back further so we are just trying to let it heal naturally at the moment.

"Obviously the schedule thickens up around Christmas and New Year so you like to think you would be back and available to help the team at that point, but it's just one of those things. You have to wait and see.

"I've not been able to do a lot to treat it because it's a break, so I've just sort of tried to see how it heals really and take it a day at a time. It's been pretty dull because you can't do a lot. There isn't that much treatment so it's just been a case of coming in and doing little bits of work in the gym and just hoping it recovers."

Baines has missed only a handful of games for Everton in the past few campaigns and has had to sit on the sidelines while Martinez marshalled them to a famous victory at Old Trafford and an impressive draw at Arsenal.

Not only that but his replacement Bryan Oviedo has starred in his absence, scoring goals against Stoke and the winner as Everton got the better over their old boss David Moyes by beating Manchester United.

"I have found it really difficult not being involved," he added. "You do miss it but I have been quite lucky the last few seasons with injuries. I am trying to use the time as best I can. I think both [Oviedo and the team] have done brilliantly.

"The results we have got have been great, we couldn't have asked for much more over the three games. It is not an easy thing to do when you've been out the team a long time so Bryan deserves even more credit, not just for how good his performances have been but his professionalism in the way he has looked after himself. Thankfully it has made sure the team has got good results."