Ross Barkley is expected to return to the Everton first team after a long wait after he returned to full training on Monday, manager Roberto Martinez has confirmed.
Barkley sustained knee ligament damage in training before the opening English Premier League fixture at Leicester City, the Toffees’ opening match of the season, which set him on the sidelines until at least November.
But Martinez revealed the 20-year-old has recovered earlier than expected and explained the positive impact his return has already made on the squad, speaking at his press conference on Thursday.
“He’s really close, he’s had a very good period of work now and came back on Monday with the group and has reacted extremely well,” he said.
“Sometimes you forget what a sensational footballer he is and when you see him at full flow you realise. He’s a bit infectious around the place he’s desperate to play and his work this week has been very, very good.”
“It’s too early to tell if he’s going to be involved on Saturday but I don’t see him being too far away from a return.”
Martinez was asked whether he would welcome Barkley’s participation in next summer’s European U21 Championships, and appeared to have welcomed the inclusion on his squad, explaining a player’s involvement rests heavily on the amount of games they have played throughout the season.
“Ross now is coming from an injury and he hasn’t played that much football so far,” he added.
“So if the tournament was now, it would be a good opportunity for Ross to get some playing time.”
“If he’s been in a season where he’s played consistently for 10 months, you can understand that he needs to have a bit of a break.”