Everton boss Roberto Martinez has revealed midfielder Ross Barkley is close to a return after recovering a knee injury.
The 20-year-old picked up the problem on the eve of the Premier League season when he sustained knee ligament damage in training.
Barkley returned to training on Monday and could be in line for a return against Aston Villa on Saturday.
The Toffees could do with Barkley back in the side after their poor start to the season as they currently sit 17th in the league with just one win to their name.
Speaking about his possible return, Martinez said: “He is really close. He came back on Monday and has reacted extremely well.
“Sometimes you forget what a sensational footballer he is and when you see him a full flow you realise he is infectious around the place.
“He is desperate to play and his work this week has been very good. It is too early to tell whether he will be involved on Saturday but I don’t see him to be too far away from it.”
Despite his lack of game time, Barkley has been linked with a return to the England Under-21 side.
Gareth Southgate could well call on Barkley ahead of the 2015 European Championships but Martinez has admitted he is against the idea.
“Ross is coming back from an injury so he hasn’t played much football,” he said.
“If the tournament was now it would be a good opportunity for Ross to get some playing time but if it is at the end of a season where he has played consistently for 10 months then he needs to have a break.”
Martinez’s side are 1.56 to win on Saturday, with the draw 3.76 and Villa are 6.13 to win.