England defender Baines may return for Everton on Thursday

Reuters| Updated: Dec 23, 2013, 23:19 PM IST

London: 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.