Everton close in on new Baines deal
Everton hope to be able to plan for a long-term future with Leighton Baines after reports suggested significant inroads have been made over contract negotiations.
Despite manager Roberto Martinez's reluctance to talk about a new deal for the England left-back, Press Association Sport understands there has been considerable groundwork done over the last couple of months.
That appears to have paved the way for the 29-year-old, whose current contract expires in 17 months, to extend his stay.
Having fended off bids from former Toffees boss David Moyes at Manchester United in the summer, Martinez said they wanted to reward Baines' loyalty with an improved deal but the Spaniard has been wary of speaking publicly about negotiations.
Keeping Baines out of the hands of United would be a major coup for Everton and a sign of how Martinez's arrival in the summer has had a huge effect.
The club sit just one point behind fourth-placed Liverpool and have lost just twice all season as the Spaniard's change in style has reaped instant rewards.
Martinez significantly gave youngster Ross Barkley a key role in his midfield and has seen the 20-year-old blossom as a result, winning his first senior England cap and putting himself in with a good chance of securing a place in Roy Hodgson's World Cup squad.
Barkley is contracted until 2016, having signed a long-term deal in December 2011, but could also be in line for a new contract to match his rising importance to the side.
The midfielder, out with a broken toe for possibly three weeks, travelled with the rest of the squad for a warm-weather training break in Tenerife at the weekend.