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Arouna Kone to start first match for Everton in over a year


Everton’s Ivorian striker Arouna Kone chases the ball during the pre-season friendly football match between Blackburn Rovers and Everton at Ewood Park, Blackburn, north-west England on July 27, 2013. AFP PHOTO/PAUL ELLIS (Photo credit should read PAUL ELLIS/AFP/Getty Images)

AFP/Getty Images

It’s been a long road to recovery for Arouna Kone.

After bursting onto the Premier League scene with 11 goals for Wigan, the Ivorian striker followed manager Roberto Martinez to Everton in the summer of 2013.

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In his sixth appearance for the Toffees, Kone injured his knee and has yet to feature in the first team since. The injury took place on August 17, 2013.

Now nearly 16 months after getting injured, Kone will finally return from injury in what will surely be an emotional game for the striker.

It’s going to be fantastic to start. It’ll be like making my debut again. It has been a long time coming.

I’ve never been out as long as I have with this injury. I have had to be patient. In training I feel great. The support from the manager and the fans has been very important. Last season was so frustrating. It was made easier with that support.”

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Manager Roberto Martinez named seven of his eleven starters ahead of Everton’s Europa League match against Krasnodor. With the Toffees already into the knockout rounds as group winners, Kone was named to the starting lineup alongside Joel Robles, Christian Atsu, Steven Pienaar, Bryan Oviedo, Luke Garbutt and Tyias Browning.

Martinez said it was “priceless” to have Kone back, as he hopes to give more rest to his star strikers Romelu Lukaku and Samuel Eto’o. If Kone can stay healthy, the depth he provides up top could prove vital for Everton’s chase for a top-four finish in the Premier League.