Everton midfielder André Gomes completed a 60-minute practice match on Sunday in an attempt to step up his recovery from the gruesome ankle fracture dislocation he suffered back in November last year.
The 26-year-old has not been seen since a 1-1 draw with Tottenham Hotspur, during which he sustained the horrific injury following a challenge from Son Heung-min. Fortunately, it was soon realised that the injury, which was clearly still serious, was not career-threatening like many felt in the immediate aftermath.
| Brilliant news on @aftgomes' involvement in today's behind-closed-doors friendly at USM Finch Farm!— Everton (@Everton) February 16, 2020
He will now continue training with the first team ahead of #ARSEVE next weekend. pic.twitter.com/xR2Zs6y5SV
As noted by Paul Joyce, the midfielder's recovery is obviously going well as Gomes was able to play the entire behind-closed-door friendly, which featured both senior players and members of the Under-23s.
The best news was that both Gomes and the club's medical staff were happy that there had been no issues during the match, so the Portugal international has now moved one step closer to a full return.
He has been in light training since January, and manager Carlo Ancelotti recently confessed (via BBC Sport) that the club were eager to welcome him back to the first team in time to face Arsenal on Sunday.
"We have the possibility to prepare him for Arsenal," he said.
"I already spoke with the player, he agreed and the medical staff agreed, to have a plan to put him on the pitch against Arsenal."
It appears that the final hurdle for Gomes is to regain his match fitness, so the fact that he managed to get through what was almost certainly an intense 60-minute game suggests that a return against Arsenal may not be too outlandish.
Everton currently sit eighth in the Premier League, but they are just five points away from the top four, so Gomes' return will certainly be a welcome boost to their push for European qualification.