Leighton Baines has been philosphical mood during his rehabilitation from successive ankle operations but he is looking to achieve full fitness and is confident he can get back to his best this season.
The 30-year-old could make his long-awaited return to competitive action when the Premier League resumes next weekend as Everton host Aston Villa and it would represent the culmination of a lot of hard work and some introspection on the fullback's part.
“The injury has been new ground for me,” Baines told The Telegraph. “It was weird in that respect. The first time it was like, ‘What do I do here?’ After a while I was thinking maybe it was meant to be. I have never had more than 10 days off my whole career in terms of stopping and doing nothing [even in the close season].
“It would have been more of a problem for me three or four years ago. I have worked on myself as a player and also as a person. [I]t’s just a sport at the end of the day. We all go mad about it. Everyone is mad about it, and it is great, but things happen in your life.
“There’s no reason I can’t be as good as I was five years ago. If I am not I can look at myself in the mirror. It won’t be for the want of trying. If you had seen me train over the last few months you can see I’m keen to work."
Baines is similarly unfazed by the fact that he will enter the final year of his contract next summer, with no assurances at present that it will be renewed – although with the precedent set by the likes of Leon Osman, Steven Pienaar, Tim Howard and Tony Hibbert, there's every chance it will be if he stays fit.
“This is a dead interesting time for me. It’s new. I have never been through anything like it before. I’m older, I’m going to be 31. I find it all quite exciting. Even the question of not having three years on a contract. It’s a dead interesting position.
"In the past I have been younger, I have been fit and healthy and playing well. I am not in that situation any more. I am older. I have had two surgeries. I have one more year left. It’s quite exciting to be honest.”
Reader Comments (14)
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1 Posted 15/11/2015 at 20:49:05
2 Posted 15/11/2015 at 20:56:26
3 Posted 15/11/2015 at 22:18:10
4 Posted 15/11/2015 at 22:28:19
5 Posted 15/11/2015 at 22:49:37
6 Posted 15/11/2015 at 23:03:03
7 Posted 15/11/2015 at 23:41:13
In time he will be supported by Besic in the left midfield position. Too early for negative thoughts. I hope he comes back somewhere near his old self.
8 Posted 15/11/2015 at 23:51:12
9 Posted 16/11/2015 at 00:10:06
10 Posted 16/11/2015 at 00:13:35
12 Posted 16/11/2015 at 03:33:11
I'm looking forward to seeing him back in the shirt and being a positive influence to the team. The potential link-up with Baines, Barkley and Stones as three deep-lying 'defensive' midfielders would be interesting too...
14 Posted 16/11/2015 at 10:41:46
He's not quite the same player without Pienaar (and let's face it, we are not the same team without that pairing down the left-hand side), but hopeful he can fit into the current side and add a bit of nous. Galloway has had a good season but is not at the same level just yet as the Baines of old. Our best left back since Van den Hauwe or even Wilson.
15 Posted 16/11/2015 at 11:03:48
16 Posted 16/11/2015 at 11:18:40
I'm also not getting carried away until he can get himself back out onto the pitch for 8-10 games and having no setbacks related to this injury.
Very often as we've witnessed with Bryan Oviedo, it's not so much as bein fit and available for selection again after a long term injury but more how your body reacts to the rigours of match action.
I sincerely hope we see the form Leighton Baines displayed between the years of 2009-2013, when he was easily the best left back in England if not Europe for that spell.
Certainly he was David Moyes most consistent player during Moyes last four years at Everton.
Although he's 31 next month, you'd love to think he could have one last really productive spell over the next 18 months, sadly I don't think he'll ever reach the peak years when he was operating with Pienaar, the body can't go to the limits like it used to once you reach the early 30's after bad injuries.
I'd love one last hurrah for Bainsey!
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