Yannick Bolasie has revealed how "overwhelming" it was to play in his first football match for over a year after a lengthy knee injury.
The Everton star appeared off the bench in the club's 2-1 Under-23s defeat to Leicester City on Monday afternoon - the forward playing 30 minutes of the contest in his first match since he ruptured cruciate knee ligaments against Manchester United on 4th December 2016.
Speaking to the Toffees' website after his first run out for over 12 months, Bolasie beamed from ear to ear as he explained why he was over the moon to be out on the pitch again in a competitive fixture.
He said: “Playing again was overwhelming. When I got on I felt good. I knew about two weeks ago I was going to play in this game so it’s good.
“There wasn’t any nerves! Now that I’ve played the 30 minutes there isn’t any. Maybe before there was some because it’s been a long time. Training is training – it’s totally different in the matches when it matters so, yes, I’m happy.
“I want to be with the [first team] boys. Right now the team is doing really well so you’re going to have to try to fight your way in but there’s no rush for myself. I know what my role is because a year out in football means it will be a month or two before I’m really back at it but the main thing is that I feel okay.
“Just the smell of grass again in the game was great.”
Bolasie has spent the past year slowly recuperating from the heartbreaking injury in just his 15th Blues appearance following a £28m transfer from Crystal Palace in the summer of 2016.
The DR Congo international, who is eyeing a first-team return in January, went on to reveal what words of encouragement youth head coach David Unsworth passed on to him before he entered the fray.
Bolasie added: “He [Unsworth] just said, ‘Congrats’, and to go on and play simple. I did and we had that chance. For me, Morgan (Feeney) should have done better (to score from my cross)!
“It was a good game, although we lost unfortunately. It was disappointing on that front but for myself I’m overwhelmed that I came on to play 30 minutes.”