Dele has not played for Everton this season and last made a competitive appearance in February, when sustaining a hip injury that curtailed his loan with Besiktas and necessitated surgery. The 27-year-old midfielder also endured a setback in his recovery this season.
Sean Dyche has revealed that Dele, who opened up on a traumatic childhood and a sleeping-pill addiction in an interview this summer, could rejoin first-team training in the next week. The playmaker will then follow an individual game programme to improve match fitness and could be in contention to return early in the new year.
The Everton manager said: “He is back on the grass with the sports science/fitness side, going through football-related drills, but the actual freedom to join in with us is not there yet.
“Hopefully over the next week he will start blending in.
He still has a bit to go because he has been out for a long time, he needs a game programme, but to get him back with us would be really pleasing for him because he has been so unlucky.
“The last time, 12-13 weeks ago when he was going to join in, he was so unlucky with the damage that was done. But the good news is that everything is settling down and he is feeling good. I saw him earlier and he said: ‘I’m feeling great.’”
Dele’s Everton contract expires next summer and the club must pay Tottenham £10m when he makes 20 appearances. He has made 13, 12 as a substitute.
Dyche, who expects to have Dominic Calvert-Lewin back from injury against Newcastle on Thursday, said of Dele: “His first thing will be to come in with us, but it will be light. He might do the warm-up and passing drills and then he will step away and continue his work with the sports science team.
“Then over a 10-day period it blends back into a point where you go: ‘Now you are joining in with us.’ That would not be the process if you have been out for 10 days, but with a longer-term injury it is about getting the body balance going again and training naturally.”