Martinez: Deulofeu ready for Everton return

The Spaniard has been sidelined since mid-December with a hamstring injury but could feature in Sunday's Premier League clash with top-four rivals Tottenham

Everton manager Roberto Martinez is excited at the prospect of the return from injury of playmaker Gerard Deulofeu.

The on-loan Barcelona man has not played since December 14 after suffering a hamstring injury, and could feature in Sunday's crucial clash against fellow Champions League hopefuls Tottenham.

Martinez has used Deulofeu mainly as an impact substitute this season, and says the 19-year-old is itching to be back involved with the first team.

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"When you're a young man it's even harder being out injured and I can't wait to see him helping the team again," he told The Liverpool Echo.

"He'll definitely come back stronger. He's excited about playing. He's been suffering away from [Everton training ground] Finch Farm watching the games.

"I can guarantee the fans they will see a very different Gerard Deulofeu and someone who is ready to be very important.

"He travelled over to watch the team in action in a couple of games, and he just really wants to help now."

Martinez said that the injury had made Deulofeu even more determined to help Everton in their push to secure fourth place and the right to play Champions League football next season.

"Gerard already has an incredible experience under his belt," he said.

"He's come back completely refreshed and desperate to play for Everton. The good thing is now he comes back to an environment he knows well.

"In the summer he came into a club with only an idea of what he might find, but it surpassed his expectations.

"The fans welcomed him and they were delighted in the manner he performs and brings something unique."