Pienaar nears Everton return

The 33-year-old South African has only managed 10 appearances this season, and has not featured since Everton’s 3-1 win over QPR on December 15.

Everton boss Roberto Martinez expects Pienaar to return to training next week, after overcoming a knee problem that has hampered his season.

Martinez told Everton’s official website: “We had very good news on Steven. He’s going to join the group on Monday and we’ll take it from that point on, making sure that slowly but surely we give him the right path to being fully fit and being able to enjoy his football again.

“We’ve missed Steven massively throughout this season and it’s important we’ll be able to see him on a football pitch before the season ends.”

Pienaar is not the only player nearing a return, as Martinez also gave updates on Kevin Mirallas, Bryan Oviedo and Tony Hibbert, all of whom are working their way back to fitness.

He said: “The international break is always important for the injured players because you can really focus on their needs and it gives them time to set individual targets.

“Kevin Mirallas has improved immensely over the past couple of days. Bryan Oviedo is steadily getting a lot stronger and Tony Hibbert is very close to joining the group as well.”

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