Baines optimistic about Everton's season after injury return

Leighton Baines was delighted to make his return from injury and has his sights set on a strong festive period for Everton.

Returning defender Leighton Baines believes Everton are well placed for an impressive season following their 2- 0 win over Middlesbrough in the League Cup quarter-final.

The left-back made his first appearance for seven months after an ankle injury when he came on with 17 minutes remaining at the Riverside Stadium.

Everton have not been beaten in all competitions since their Premier League defeat to Arsenal on October 24 and Baines feels they are ready to perform strongly for the remainder of the campaign.

"We are excited about where we are at the moment and we are looking forward," the 30-year-old told evertontv.

"This [cup] run is something we are all excited about - you could see that in the way we played and the support we brought up.

"There are no easy rides and we are prepared for that. We are made up to be in the [semi-final] draw. 

"We are not far off from where we want to be in the league as well. We are a few good results away from getting back in the mix for the European positions and there is no better time to hit form than now over the Christmas period."

Baines is delighted to be back in the first-team mix after a frustrating spell recovering his fitness on the sidelines.

"It was great to get back out on the pitch," he said. "It has been a long time for me – it is getting on for seven months now since I last played any competitive football - so it is nice to be involved."

Everton are back in action at home to Crystal Palace next Monday.