Stones closing in on Everton return

Everton manager Roberto Martinez has revealed John Stones could return from injury against QPR on Monday.

The England defender appeared set to be sidelined until the new year after damaging ankle ligaments during a 2-1 defeat to Manchester United in October.

However, Stones has recovered swiftly from surgery and is in contention to feature against Harry Redknapp's side.

Martinez said: "John is ahead of schedule - probably two or three weeks ahead - but I would expect that. He's such a quick healer and he hasn't stopped for one second trying to win those small margins to get back early.

"He's come back and trained once with the team and he came through that really, really well.

"Now it's just a matter of making a good measurement of when it's right to allow him to be involved in a competitive game.

"We've got four players who we'll assess - James McCarthy, Steven Naismith [both hamstring], John Stones and Darron Gibson [knee].

"All four have got different situations but I feel all four have got an opportunity to be involved, so it's a good situation."

Martinez is in buoyant mood after Arouna Kone, Bryan Oviedo and Antolin Alcaraz made their comebacks from injury against Krasnodar on Thursday.

"I feel we're now getting strength in numbers at a really important time with the busy festive schedule we have ahead of us," added the Spaniard.