Leighton Baines has revealed when he expects to be available for Everton's first team again after he stepped up his recovery from a calf injury.
The veteran full-back has been out of action for almost three months after he sustained the problem during the 4-1 loss to Southampton in late November, but took part in full training sessions with the club during their warm weather training camp in Dubai.
Speaking to the Toffees' official site after he trained with his teammates for the first time in 12 weeks, Baines admitted it could be a bit longer before he's back on the pitch but harbours hopes of making his comeback sooner rather than later.
He said: “That (my return) will probably be determined by the fitness staff and the technical staff. Between them everything is very bespoke now and they’ll look at the numbers and see how my condition correlates to the other lads when I’m doing the same sessions as them, and obviously get my feedback as well.
"Hopefully I’ll be available to the manager sooner rather than later."
Baines, who also stated that the break would enable the Blues to try and 'secure as many points as possible' before the season ends, explained how the change of scenery had benefited the players during a break from matches.
Without a match to play until next Saturday against Watford, Sam Allardyce took his squad to the Middle East to boost their energy levels and create a more cohesive team after the recent January additions.
And 33-year-old Baines stated his belief that the five-day getaway would prove beneficial when the Toffees' stars return to Merseyside on Monday.
He added: “Obviously it was nice to get back out there and I did the majority of the session. Hopefully once we get back [to USM Finch Farm] I’ll be back in full training and that will be me.
What's that? A left back? Holy shit...— Mike Tibbenham (@mickeytibbs) February 17, 2018
(You may also be interested in FanView: Returning Funes Mori Has Golden Chance to Stake Claim for Everton Starting Berth)
“I’ve just been doing fitness work really, separate from the group, and trying to get into a condition where I can go back into training. I went back in today, only missed the last part and everything felt good.
“I think the trip has been good for everyone. The facilities and the sessions have been great and it’s a change of environment that lifts everyone a bit, and everyone’s been able to do some good work.
“A lot of teams do these trips at this time of year and they can be good if they’re done right."