Everton offer lifeline to former player Jose Baxter who is serving 12-month ban from the game.

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Everton have offered former player Jose Baxter a 12-month contract when his 12-month ban ends in the summer.

The 24-year-old, who came through the ranks at Goodison Park before moving to Oldham Athletic and then Sheffield United, is currently serving a year-long suspension from football.

Traces of cocaine were found when he was tested following a night out in February last year, the second test he had failed.

Baxter was at Sheffield United at the time, but was subsequently released in May and then issued with the ban last August.

He has now been handed a potential lifeline at Everton and is expected to play with David Unsworth’s U23s.

Baxter told The Times: “I’m speechless. Not many people get a second chance and here’s me with a third chance.”

Unsworth added: “It can be anything he wants it to be. As soon as he comes through the gates of Finch Farm in July, he will be treated like an U23 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.”

Baxter made his Goodison Park debut in 2008, aged just 16, before joining Oldham in 2012. A year later he joined Sheffield United, with whom he scored 20 goals in 93 appearances.