Jose Baxter is to make a surprise return to Everton after being offered a 12-month contract when his drugs ban ends in the summer.
Jose Baxter, who came through the youth system at Goodison Park, is currently serving a year-long suspension from football.
The 24-year-old began his career with the Toffees and could now return to play with David Unsworth’s high-flying Under 23s side next season.
Traces of cocaine were found in a routine test following a night out in February last year, the second test he had failed, andBaxter was consequently banned.
He told The Times: “I’m speechless. Not many people get a second chance and here’s me with a third chance.”
The decision to hand Baxter a fresh opportunity with the Blues was the idea of chairman Bill Kenwright and Unsworth.
‘It can be anything he wants it to be’ added reserve manager Unsworth, who lifted the FA Cup with the Toffees in 1995.
JOSE BAXTER CAREER
Appearances: 15 Goals: 0
Tranmere – loan (2011-12)
Appearances: 14 Goals: 3
Appearances: 50 Goals: 17
Sheffield United (2013-2016)
Appearances: 113 Goals: 28
‘As soon as he comes through the gates of Finch Farm in July, he will be treated like an Under 23 player and we work very hard. He will be given the same opportunities as everyone else. If that means he moves on to a Championship club or League One club later on, that will be down to Jose.
‘We want to help because that is the sort of club we are. He is one of our own, but I have said to Jose, in no uncertain terms, that this is your last chance.’