Jack Rodwell and Victor Anichebe have moved a step closer to returning to first-team action with a run-out for Everton's reserves.
The Blues pair featured in a 5-0 win over Blackpool on Wednesday afternoon, which saw Jose Baxter score twice while Jermaine Beckford, Magaye Gueye and substitute Hope Akpan also got on the scoresheet.
Midfielder Rodwell played over an hour as he continues to recover from ankle ligament damage he suffered against Aston Villa at the end of August while striker Anichebe had a 20-minute cameo having not played since the final game of last season due to a knee problem.
Louis Saha has returned to full fitness in recent weeks and reserve team boss Alan Stubbs feels it is a big boost for first-team manager David Moyes to have Rodwell and Anichebe almost back in contention as it would leave Marouane Fellaini as his only remaining major absentee.
"I think it's getting towards the manager being able to pick from a full-strength squad again," Stubbs told the club's official website.
"Jack's got 65 minutes under his belt, Becks has got 70, Victor 20 and Gueye a full 90, so everyone is looking like they are coming back and that's good news for the manager."
Beckford has so far scored just one goal since joining on a free transfer from Leeds in the summer - against Huddersfield in the Carling Cup.
But he was a threat throughout before enjoying a morale boost with a well-taken strike midway through the second half.
On the shoulder
Stubbs was urging the 26-year-old striker to play in the same style that saw him score 85 goals in 141 games for Leeds over the last three seasons.
"We wanted him to play on the defender's shoulder," he said. "A lot of his goals at Leeds came from him running on to things. Defenders don't like it when you play just on the shoulder.
"On another day he could have had three or four. But he scored and hopefully he'll take confidence from that because he admitted he was probably a bit rusty."