Ramiro Funes Mori has revealed how his mental toughness and familial support helped him overcome his lengthy knee injury.
The Everton defender has spent the past 11 months battling back from a cruciate knee ligament injury that he sustained last March on international duty with Argentina and is on the cusp of making a first-team return for the Toffees.
Speaking to the club's official site about how he resolved to not get too downbeat about his spell on the sidelines, Funes Mori explained that his family and being 'mentally strong' ensured that he fought back to give himself a chance to get his career back on track.
He said: “Of course it’s difficult, being injured for a long time. It’s tough but I had support from my family and I’m very strong mentally.
“I’m very happy to be fully fit, and I’m looking forward to joining the team.”
Funes Mori has watched from the sidelines as Sam Allardyce replaced Ronald Koeman in the managerial hotseat in late November, and saw the 63-year-old use a number of different centre half partnerships during his early reign to try and get that elusive clean sheet for the Blues.
When Funes Mori returns, would you have 3 CBs rather than 2 - including the return of Holgate?— Toffee Analysis (@ToffeeAnalysis) February 27, 2018
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The 26-year-old stated that it was difficult to be on the outside looking in as Allardyce ran the rule over his options in defence, but revealed that he now hoped to push on and earn a regular starting berth under Big Sam.
Indeed, with a potential place in Argentina's squad for the World Cup in Russia also waiting in the wings, Funes Mori insisted he wanted to be part of that set up if he had starred for Everton in the final few games of the season.
Wouldn't worry Funes. You're a center back. We'll be back to 9 central defenders for this weeks trip to burnley after our glut of missed chances last week. And tell Vlasic he'll start this week.— Mel '73 (@melbourne1973) February 27, 2018
He added: “It’s difficult when you’re injured and a new manager comes in. It’s tough because you want to show what you can give to the team and to the Club.
“But he knows every player, I think he has given opportunities to every injured player that’s come back so I am waiting for that opportunity also.”
“Of course I’m thinking about the World Cup but I’ll have to play for Everton in order to do that [play for Argentina]. I’m just happy to have recovered from the injury but I need to be fit to prove that I can play.”