Everton v Sunderland: Leighton Baines could return for Boxing Day clash
The England left-back has been out for the past month
Monday 23 December 2013
Everton left-back Leighton Baines could return to action against Sunderland on Boxing Day.
The England international has been out for the past month with a broken toe.
Everton have not lost in Baines' absence, winning four and drawing one in the Barclays Premier League, and Bryan Oviedo has filled his position effectively.
Despite that, the return of Baines is likely to give a squad already flying high another lift.
Martinez said: "Leighton is getting really close. Depending how today and tomorrow go, he should be ready for Thursday, which is terrific news.
"Of course we have missed him. You can't underestimate the quality of Leighton and his experience, know-how and what that represents.
"We have had an incredible replacement in Bryan Oviedo, he has been terrific.
"But you want players in good moments of form to be available.
"We are desperate to have Leighton Baines back and desperate for Bryan to be in that moment of form.
"We need to make sure we use that well for the good of the squad."
Baines' return to action ahead of the January transfer window could reignite speculation over his future.
The 29-year-old was heavily linked with Manchester United in the summer but Everton rebuffed offers.
Martinez is happy for the rumours to start up again - taking that as a compliment over his team's form - but stresses he will be under no pressure to sell.
He said: "I hope we get more speculation. Now we are going to get Ross Barkley, I am sure, and Seamus Coleman.
"But that is a good sign. The problem is when you are in January and nobody speaks about your players.
"I am quite happy, speculation is welcome. We don't have to sell. We are in a great position financially.
"That is what football should be about - people talking good about your players. It is a good message."
Martinez expects striker Nikica Jelavic to overcome a minor hamstring problem before the Sunderland clash. Steven Pienaar and Sylvain Distin also suffered knocks in the weekend win at Swansea but should be fit.
Right-back Tony Hibbert, who has featured little in the past two seasons due to injuries, is also available after recovering from his latest knee problem.
Latest in Sport
Arsenal transfer news: Gunners fans devastated as they become only team in top 5 European leagues not to sign outfield player
Arsenal transfer news: Karim Benzema, Edinson Cavani and Gregorz Krychowiak were all linked but Wenger and Gunners fail on deadline day
David De Gea: Manchester United in bitter war of words with Real Madrid over failed transfer
David De Gea, Peter Odemwingie and the 18 weirdest transfer deadline day stories
Anthony Martial fee: 'Add-on' includes Manchester United signing winning the Ballon d'Or
- 1 Moscow voted the world's unfriendliest city
- 2 The excuses your boss is most likely to believe when you call in sick
- 3 I'm pansexual – here are the five biggest misconceptions about my sexuality
- 4 More than 11,000 Icelanders offer to house Syrian refugees to help European crisis
Climate change: 2015 will be the hottest year on record 'by a mile', experts say
Senior British politicians tell David Cameron: When dead children are being washed up on beaches, it's time to act
Jeremy Corbyn calls Osama bin Laden's killing a 'tragedy' - but was it taken out of context?
If these extraordinarily powerful images of a dead Syrian child washed up on a beach don’t change Europe’s attitude to refugees, what will?
If you're not already angry about the refugee crisis, here's a history lesson to remind you why you really should be
Theresa May says migrants should be banned from entering the UK unless they have jobs lined up