Everton’s Leighton Baines ‘close to being pain-free’ in return

'I'm in a positive place' says Everton defender Leighton Baines as he makes a trying return from two ankle operations.

Leighton Baines of Everton shown after his team's Premier League match against Norwich on Saturday. Stephen Pond / Getty Images / December 12, 2015
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Everton defender Leighton Baines is looking forward to a pain-free second half of the season after returning from two ankle operations.

The 31-year-old played his first 90 minutes since May in the weekend’s 1-1 draw at Norwich City and having got through that test he is now focused on the future.

“This last 10 days or so I’ve felt great, everything I’ve done there has been no reaction and I’m close to being pain-free. I’m in a positive place,” said the England defender after a game for the Under 21s and two substitute appearances for the first team helped his comeback from surgery.

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“Getting on in a couple of games was good psychologically and it was good just to be in and around the first team again.

“It had been a long time. Seven months is a long time to be out and so there are going to be little ups and down and I can’t expect to be perfect at the moment but I am really happy with where I am at.

“Hopefully there will be more opportunities to tick more boxes and get more minutes and that one on Saturday was a big one for me getting 90 minutes, it was a full game and required me to manage myself through that.”

Another player trying to remain optimistic is forward Steven Naismith, who has not featured in a league match since he was hauled off at half-time of the 3-0 defeat by Manchester United.

Everton rejected a bid from Norwich late in the summer and there is a possibility he will move on when the window reopens in January but the Scotland international still hopes he has a part to play at Goodison Park.

“I’ll speak to the manager and see where we’re at but I am just focused on the Christmas run, there are so many games and it might be the chance I need,” Naismith told the Liverpool Echo.

“Come the middle of January I may have played every game since and it’s no longer being talked about.

“I have learnt in football than things can change in an instant.

“After my first season at Everton, I was being written off and people didn’t think I was worth my place in the squad.

“But a year later I was playing well and played nearly every game throughout the season, so football is so fickle and can change so quickly.”

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