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Soccer-England defender Baines may return for Everton on Thursday


Dec 23 (Reuters) - England left back Leighton Baines is likely to make his comeback from injury in Everton's Premier League home match against bottom of the table Sunderland on Thursday.

The defender has been out for five games since fracturing his toe in the 3-3 derby draw against Liverpool last month.

"Leighton Baines is getting really close and I think it's fair to say that, depending how today and tomorrow go, he should be available," Everton manager Roberto Martinez told a news conference on Monday.

"We have missed Leighton because you can't underestimate his quality, experience and know-how."

Martinez praised Costa Rican left back Bryan Oviedo for his performances as stand-in.

"He has been terrific," said the manager, "but you want good players in good moments of form to be available".

Fourth-placed Everton, who have lost only one league game all season, were unbeaten in the five matches Baines missed. (Writing by Rex Gowar; editing by Tony Jimenez)

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