Stricken Everton star Yannick Bolasie says returning to action in December would be 'the best Christmas present' he could receive and believes his serious knee injury will help elevate his game to new heights.
Bolasie, 28, joined Everton from Crystal Palace for £22.5m last summer but only managed to feature in 14 games before injuring his cruciate ligament in an innocuous-looking collision with Manchester United forward Anthony Martial in December.
There were fears the DR Congo international would miss over a year of action but Bolasie, who once enjoyed a brief spell with Maltese outfit Floriana, is hoping for a festive return and believes the injury will have actually have a positive effect on the rest of his career.
"Getting back in December would be the best Christmas present," Bolasie told The Mirror. "A player like me always wants to be on the pitch. "When I looked at the videos of the injury – before I got the results – you think it is only something small. But, for some reason, I had a feeling this injury was going to be long-term. I've had two operations, but that was the plan.
"Strangely, I think that having this injury will give me the composure that I have been looking for. I know that will take my game to another level. I am going to be subconsciously more cautious with any sharp movements, but that should improve my game massively."
Despite losing Bolasie, their then second most expensive signing of all time, Everton managed to make progress during the second half of the last campaign, eventually qualifying for the Europa League with relative ease.
The performances of Ronald Koeman's side did evidently dip towards the back-end of the campaign, and Bolasie thinks his presence could have helped significantly in the Toffees' quest for the top six.
Everton have been very active this summer, with Jordan Pickford and Davy Klaassen completing moves to Merseyside for a combined total of £54m. More arrivals are expected - Malaga forward Sandro is expected to complete his £5.2m switch to Goodison Park in the coming days - but Bolasie is confident he can provide Koeman's side with 'something different', due to his unpredictable style of play.
"If I was playing this season, I could help the team push for the top six really hard," Bolasie added. "The Everton fans have seen what I can do at Crystal Palace – but not what I can do for them. When I came to Everton, I wanted to help the team get into Europe. They have done it without me, but I know what I can bring to the table and it is something different."