(Reuters) - Everton defender Ramiro Funes Mori is ready to stake his claim for a first-team spot ahead of Saturday’s Premier League tie against Brighton and Hove Albion after featuring for the Under-23 team on his return from a long-term knee injury.
The Argentina international, on what was his 27th birthday on Monday, delivered an assured performance in a 2-0 win over Swansea City.
It was the first time Funes Mori played in a competitive fixture since facing Hull City in March last year, shortly after which he underwent knee surgery.
“I’ve been training good these past weeks,” he told the club website. (www.evertonfc.com)
“Even though I wasn’t playing for the first team, I’ve been playing for the Under-23s to get the rhythm, get the tempo. I’m 100 percent fit to play and I’m ready for Saturday.”
Funes Mori is also targeting a place in Argentina’s World Cup squad and his chances were boosted by a call-up for friendlies against Italy and Spain later this month.
“I’m very satisfied that the manager (Jorge Sampaoli) has called me even though I haven’t played for the first team,” he added.
“But I’m fit, I’m ready to play. I’m feeling good – hopefully I get my chance and go on from there.”
Reporting by Hardik Vyas in Bengaluru; Editing by Peter Rutherford