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Everton's start to the season may have been marked by some disappointing defeats and the painful loss of Joleon Lescott, but David Moyes will have brightened the mood of the blue half of Merseyside by announcing on Thursday that Mikel Arteta is close to a return to training.

The Spanish midfielder is nearing the end of a long absence due to injury having ruptured his cruciate knee ligament during a Premier League tie with Newcastle United in February.

Arteta has been sorely missed at Goodison Park, even though Steven Pienaar has impressed in his absence and new signing Diniyar Bilyaletdinov has also arrived to give Moyes another creative option in his midfield.

The talented Spaniard will not be rushed back into first team action but is nearly ready to return to training, according to his manager.

"Mikel's doing well and there's a chance that he can join in (training) with the other boys in maybe a week or two," Moyes told the club's official website. "But he will need reserve games before we can call on him."

Everton are also treating Yakubu in a cautious manner after the striker made his first appearance in nine months in the club's Europa League tie against Sigma Olomouc at the end of August.

The Nigerian, who ruptured his Achilles in November 2008, scored after only 30 seconds of a recent reserve game but Moyes is concerned that the former club record signing is not ready for the rigours of top flight football.

"Yak's been out for nine months and he will have to get a lot of training and a lot of football under his belt before we feel he's ready to start Premier League matches again," Moyes said. "He played 45 minutes for the reserves again this week but felt his hip and his back tighten up so we had to take him off."


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