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England midfielder Barkley close to Everton return

Roberto Martinez told reporters that midfielder Ross Barkley might be ready for Everton's home game.

FILE: England’s midfielder Ross Barkley (2nd R) clashes with Costa Rica's defender Giancarlo Gonzalez (L). Picture: AFP.

LONDON - Everton midfielder Ross Barkley, who is yet to play this season, has recovered from a knee injury and is close to a first-team return, his manager Roberto Martinez said on Thursday.

The Spaniard told reporters that the 20-year-old England international might be ready for Everton's home game against Aston Villa on Saturday but a more likely return was the Europa League match at Lille next Thursday.

"Ross is really close," Martinez told reporters.

"He's had a really good period of work, came back on Monday working with the rest of the group. Sometimes you forget how good a footballer he is, how infectious he is around the place. He's not too far away."

Everton finished fifth last season but have made a poor start to this campaign with one win in their opening seven games which has left them 17th in the 20-team table on six points, two above the bottom trio who all have four.

Barkley made his England debut in August last year and has nine caps.