Everton defender Ramiro Funes Mori took another big step towards his long-awaited return after playing a part in the Blues’ Under-23 game on Monday night.
Funes Mori hasnâ€™t played since suffering a serious knee injury for Argentina in March last year, but came through unscathed as Evertonâ€™s youngsters beat Barnsley 1-0 on Monday night in the Premier League Cup.
Funes Mori played alongside Mason Holgate at the back before the pair were taken off in the second period at Oakwell.
It’s another sizable step on the road to recovery for the centre-back, following on from his appearance in last week’s 4-0 defeat to Arsenal’s Under-23s.
The left-sided centre-back completed his 45 minutes as scheduled but was unable to stop the Gunners taking a 2-0 lead into the half-time interval.
Funes Mori was taken off on a stretcher of Argentinaâ€™s game with Bolivia back on March 28 last year, just days after Seamus Coleman suffered a horrendous double leg break in action for the Republic of Ireland against Wales.
Both Funes Mori and Holgate are now expected to be part of Sam Allardyce’s squad as Everton jet out to Dubai for some warm-weather training this week.
The Blues have no fixture to contend with this weekend due to their third-round exit in the FA Cup and Allardyce sees the free week as a chance to jet out to Dubai.
Injuries to the likes of Funes Mori, Hplgate, Coleman and Leighton Baines have limited Evertonâ€™s defensive options at times this term.
Young defender Jonjoe Kenny has played much of the season at right-back, with Cuco Martina shunted out to an unfamiliar left-sided position.
However, the January addition of Eliaquim Mangala coupled with the respective returns of Coleman and Funes Mori have boosted Allardyceâ€™s numbers.