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The England left-back has been sidelined since the Merseyside derby five weeks, where he fractured his right toe, and his manager is looking forward to his return

Leighton Baines is set to return from injury for Everton’s Boxing Day fixture with Sunderland, boss Roberto Martinez has confirmed.

The England international fractured his right toe during the Toffees’ 3-3 draw with Liverpool on November 23 and has not featured since.

Baines had featured in all of Everton’s opening 12 Premier League games this season until his injury, and Martinez is hopeful of his star man’s return for Thursday match against the struggling Black Cats.

"Leighton Baines is getting really close and depending how today and tomorrow go, he should be available," Martinez told reporters.

"Of course we have missed Leighton. You can't overestimate his quality, experience and know-how.

"We have had an incredible replacement in Bryan Oviedo. He has been terrific. But you want players in good moments of form to be available.

"We are desperate to have Leighton Baines back and desperate for Bryan to be in that moment of form. We need to make sure we use that well for the good of the squad."

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