LEIGHTON BAINES feels Everton’s preparations for the new season are well on track.
The Goodison outfit continued their impressive and unbeaten pre-season campaign with a 2-0 win over Everton - their Chilean namesakes - in a friendly at Goodison Park on Wednesday night.
David Moyes’s side now have just one more run-out, against German side Wolfsburg tomorrow, before their Premier League opener against Blackburn on August 14.
Everton made a poor start last year, losing 6-1 to Arsenal on day one and then collecting just 15 points in 14 games, but Baines feels more positive this time around.
The England international said: “The games and the training have gone well so far.
“The important thing now is that we try to keep everyone fit and get ready to start the season as well as we have done in pre-season.
“As the games come along you get a bit sharper and everyone has looked sharp in all the games.
“Everyone wants to go into the first game on a high note so it is important we end this pre-season well.
“We all know last season that we had a poor result in the first game, one of the worst we could have imagined.
“It is important, psychologically, to start well – but it is one game and there is plenty of time to recover.”
Baines has been impressed with the performances of new signing Jermaine Beckford this summer.
The 26-year-old striker is stepping up to the top flight after excelling at League One level with Leeds.
Beckford followed up his double against Preston last month with his first goal at Goodison as he headed the opener against Chile’s Everton.
Baines added: “It looks like he knows how to score. He is one of those people that have a knack for finishing.
“He looked sharp and he also offers a threat behind. He looks like he is going to be a good addition to the squad.”
Everton finished last season strongly as they lost just two of their final 24 games.
It was form that might have seen them qualify for Europe had they not struggled so much early on when injuries proved a major factor. They ultimately had to settle for eighth.
With most of the big names now fit - Marouane Fellaini played for the first time since February on Wednesday - Baines expects things to be different this year.
The 25-year-old said: “We haven’t been used to having so many players over the last couple of seasons – they’ve been littered with injuries and problems.
“It’ll be nice to have everyone fit. We’ve got some real strength in depth now and some nice problems for the manager.”
Fellaini is hoping to underline his return to fitness by another outing in Germany tomorrow after playing the second half on Wednesday night.
“My ankle feels good,” said the 22-year-old. “I’m in full training every day and I’m aiming for the start of the season. I am hoping my ankle still feels as good after more games in quick succession.
“I’d like to play on Saturday and then maybe for the national team (next week) before the season starts.”
Fellaini added: “It can be hard psychologically going into your first tackle when you’ve had a serious injury. I’ve worked hard over the last five months.
“It’s going to take four or five games in succession to get back to normal. Normally it takes three or four weeks to get back physically, and after that it’s normally okay.”