Leighton Baines is set to hand Marco Silva a welcome injury boost ahead of Friday’s trip to Aston Villa, with the Everton left-back stepping up his return to action, according to the Liverpool Echo.
Baines is understood to have participated in an extra training session at Finch Farm over the weekend, in a bid to work on his fitness alongside other squad members omitted from the Watford matchday squad by the boss.
The £65,000-a-week veteran is in contention to make his season debut on Friday, though, as Silva is facing a serious selection dilemma over who starts on the left-hand side of his defence, as Lucas Digne is still a doubt for the Villains clash after being forced off during Saturday’s win.
The £27million-rated French ace suffered what appeared to be a hamstring injury midway through the second half of the Hornets clash, leaving the boss forced to move Seamus Coleman across with Mason Holgate brought on to play at right-back.
Silva now faces an anxious wait as Digne is due to undergo scans during the week so that the club can assess the severity of the blow, despite the boss and the defender initially feeling confident that it will not lead to a lengthy absence for the 24-cap international, who featured in 35 of our Premier League fixtures last season.
If the Portuguese head coach is not convinced Digne’s hamstring will sustain another top-flight encounter, he may be forced to turn to Baines, who boasted a full week of first-team training ahead of the Watford clash as he nears a return from a thigh issue.
Baines did not feature in any of our pre-season games, nor the curtain-raiser draw at Crystal Palace, with his last outing coming at the start of February when he was forced off after 37 minutes in the dreadful defeat at home to Wolverhampton Wanderers.