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Leighton Baines to close in on Everton return with friendly appearance

LIVERPOOL -- Everton left-back Leighton Baines will play in a friendly behind closed doors during the international break as he nears his return from a long-term ankle injury.

Manager Roberto Martinez has confirmed that England international Baines, who has not played since May, is close to full fitness.

Baines missed the end of last season to have surgery on his ankle, but aggravated the problem in a freak preseason training ground accident.

The 30-year-old was ruled out for three months when he was hit on the ankle with a ball while preparing for Everton's opening match against Watford in August.

He will not be available for Saturday's Premier League trip to West Ham, but could return later in November if he comes through the friendly, against opposition that is yet to be confirmed.

Midfielders Tom Cleverley and Mo Besic are also close to comebacks after missing most of the season so far with injury problems.

Cleverley has not played a first-team match since injuring his ankle at Tottenham on Aug. 29, while Besic has managed only nine minutes of Premier League football because of hamstring problems.

Martinez told a news conference: "Leighton Baines, Mo Besic and Tom Cleverley have been training normally with the first-team squad.

"That's a real positive boost. It's now about making sure we measure their recoveries well and don't rush them back into action.

"With those three, we'll get a bit more information over the next few days.

"I don't think Leighton will be available for the weekend -- it's a case of managing his match fitness more than anything else. Medically, he's in a great condition."

Martinez confirmed that Bryan Oviedo will miss around two to three weeks with the hamstring injury he suffered in last Sunday's 6-2 win over Sunderland.

Oviedo, who can play in defence or midfield but has largely figured at left-back this season, is likely to return for either the home match against Aston Villa on Nov. 21, or the trip to Bournemouth seven days later.

Martinez said: "Bryan picked up a little bit of a hamstring problem that may keep him out of action for two to three weeks, but it's nothing too serious."