February 23, 2018 / 12:26 PM / 23 days ago

Defender Baines could return to Everton squad for Watford trip

(Reuters) - Everton defender Leighton Baines could return to the squad for Saturday’s Premier League trip to Watford after fully recovering from a calf injury that has kept him out of action for nearly three months, manager Sam Allardyce said on Friday.

FILE PHOTO - Soccer Football - Premier League - Crystal Palace vs Everton - Selhurst Park, London, Britain - November 18, 2017 Everton's Leighton Baines celebrates scoring their first goal Action Images via Reuters/Alan Walter

Left back Baines has not played for the club since their 4-1 league defeat by Southampton in November. The 33-year-old’s availability is a boost for Allardyce with Eliaquim Mangala (knee) out injured and Seamus Coleman (thigh strain) doubtful for the weekend.

“Leighton has been training and travelling with us on a regular basis, so there’s an opportunity for him to come back into the squad,” Allardyce told a news conference.

Everton will seek a second opinion on the knee injury that Mangala sustained in the 3-1 win over Crystal Palace earlier this month after initial fears that the on-loan defender from Manchester City would miss the rest of the season.

“It’s a very difficult thing to assess in terms of how long it will take at this early stage. We have to judge it week-by-week,” the manager added.

Defender Ramiro Funes Mori will play for the under-23 side this week and could return to the first team for their trip to Burnley next week. The Argentine has not played since injuring his knee while on international duty in March.

Everton are ninth in the league with 34 points, while Watford are two places below them on 30 points.

Reporting by Shrivathsa Sridhar in Bengaluru; Editing by Hugh Lawson

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