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Leighton Baines says he will be driven by new goals and new experiences when he returns to the Everton first team.
Baines will turn 31 next month and he says the uncertainty of his future – he has only a year left on his contract – is something that will motivate him to do well.
The full-back says he has been pushing himself harder than ever in training as he gears up for a first team comeback and tries to recapture his best form.
“There’s no reason I can’t be as good as I was five years ago. If I am not I can look at myself in the mirror. It won’t be for the want of trying.
“If you had seen me train over the last few months you can see I’m keen to work,” he told The Telegraph.
Now well and truly in the ‘experienced’ bracket, Baines is not afraid of having to prove his worth in order to earn a new deal at Goodison Park.
“It’s new. I have never been through anything like it before. I find it all quite exciting,” he added.
“Even the question of not having three years on a contract. It’s a dead interesting position. In the past I have been younger, I have been fit and healthy and playing well. I am not in that situation any more. I am older. I have had two surgeries. I have one more year left. It’s quite exciting to be honest.”
Baines scored in a behind-closed-doors friendly against Preston North End last week and could be in Roberto Martinez’s squad for the weekend clash with Aston Villa.
Everton are 1.53 to defeat Villa at Goodison Park, with Remi Garde’s team 6.00 and the draw 3.80.