TONY HIBBERT’S lengthy absence could yet impact on the defender’s future at Everton.
David Moyes revealed earlier this month that Hibbert may not play again this season as he struggles with a calf injury.
Hibbert underwent an operation in December to rectify the problem that has sidelined him since the 1-1 draw at Manchester City earlier that month and has restricted him to just five appearances all campaign.
The 32-year-old’s present Goodison deal expires at the end of next season, and it’s likely the club will wait until they assess the right-back’s rehabilitation before offering any contract extension.
Everton aim to bounce back from last weekend’s humiliating FA Cup quarter-final exit at home to Wigan Athletic when they entertain City in Saturday’s early Premier League kick-off.
Moyes’s men have lost only two of their last 11 meetings against the champions, and won 1-0 in the corresponding fixture last season.
While the win over Reading a fortnight ago was only their second in seven league games, Everton still remain only two points off Arsenal in fifth place and Europa League qualification berth.
Kevin Mirallas has suggested he is finally returning to form after a injury-hampered winter by netting against Reading and in the FA Cup replay win over Oldham Athletic.
And Moyes said: “Kevin has needed to get some fitness back and needed games. We bought him to score some goals, which we know he is capable of.