Mikel Arteta is getting closer to recovering from a foot injury, with the Everton midfielder playing 68 minutes in a friendly against Irish side Bohemians last night.
Everton arranged the match as preparation for the weekend clash with QPR, after their opening fixture with Tottenham was postponed because of the London riots.
And after Arteta picked up a knock to his foot in the club’s pre-season tour of the USA, Everton assistant manager Steve Round says the 29-year-old is close to being able to feature on Saturday.
"He has taken another step closer to being fully fit," Round said.
"He has missed most of pre-season with a foot injury and now he has got those minutes under his belt, which is important.
"The game got Marouane Fellaini, Mikel, Jack Rodwell and Tony Hibbert more minutes and they need that having missed bits and bobs during the summer."
Round insisted that the friendly has done a world of good to get the Toffees to match fitness, with the side hoping to go against their trend in recent seasons and make a strong start.
He added: "It was very important. We needed a game and we needed a competitive game.
"The League of Ireland is a good standard and it got one or two players that extra bit of playing time.
"We are a little bit disappointed that we didn't turn the domination of possession into goals but I am sure that will come."
Everton drew the match 1-1, with Jermain Beckford scoring for the side in the eighth minute, only to be undone by the Irish forward Anthony Flood.