Everton wideman Yannick Bolasie admits he had feared for his future before returning from a year-long injury nightmare.
The £25million winger made his first appearance for 12 months in Boxing Day’s 0-0 draw at West Brom following his recovery from a serious knee problem.
Bolasie, who joined Everton from Crystal Palace last year, played an hour at The Hawthorns but conceded there were times he struggled to see a way back after suffering a cruciate knee ligament injury against Manchester United in December 2016.
“Yes, there are times when you don’t know when the end of the road is coming or when you’re going to be back training or start playing, it’s hard to see,” he said.
“When I started seeing a little bit of light that was great for myself, then Tuesday has just been a blessing.
“I didn’t want to come back and just have my name on the shirt and not be the same kind of player, but I felt like with a bit more match sharpness I will be probably even better.
“It was totally different to what I’d been used to for the last year. It still hasn’t hit me to be honest. It might take a couple of games.
“I don’t know when I’m going to sit down and think to myself, ‘You’re back, Yann’.”
The draw at the Hawthorns extended the Toffees’ unbeaten run to eight games with boss Sam Allardyce yet to lose in his first seven matches in charge.
Bolasie added: “He’s got us defending much better and he will probably come out and say now it’s about the transition and how we want to play as forwards.
“We were good going forward before but not so good defending as a team. Now we’re defending really well, but the transition hasn’t been as good as we want it to be.”
West Brom are without a win in their last 18 Premier League outings and former Everton holding midfielder Gareth Barry wants the Baggies squad to stay united.
“The run is clearly disappointing but we’re aware that a win or back-to-back wins and you find yourself in a much more positive position very quickly. That’s our target,” Barry said.
“The main thing is that we all stick together.”