Phil Jagielka has stepped up his recovery from a medial knee ligament injury and the Everton captain is targeting a new-year return to first-team action.
England centre-back Jagielka sustained the problem during the October loss at Arsenal and has missed the last six Premier League games.
Manager Roberto Martinez confirmed that the 33 year-old is back in light training and the run of fixtures following Everton’s December 28 clash with Stoke City at Goodison Park has been earmarked as possible time for his reintroduction.
“Jags has been back running on the grass, which is always a very good sign,” Martinez told Everton’s official website.
“The next step is to involve him in more football, and the way Jags is, I feel we’ll see him back available very, very soon.
“It’s difficult to predict when as he goes step-by-step but he’s well ahead, we didn’t expect him to be running on the grass in straight lines already.
“We’re very confident about Jags being available to help the team very soon.”