DARRON GIBSON’S protracted injury ordeal is nearly over with the influential midfielder hoping to make his comeback against Reading in nine days.
The 25-year-old has already missed eight games after limping off with a thigh problem against West Bromwich Albion in September, and his return to fitness has taken longer than expected.
Finch Farm medics discovered that the Republic of Ireland international had also damaged a tendon near his thigh, which meant his initial month-long lay-off was always likely to be longer.
However David Moyes has been careful not to rush his bargain £250,000 capture from Manchester United back into the first team, in the hope that when he returns he will be able to last for the rest of the season.
Gibson has an outside chance of being involved against Sunderland on Saturday after taking part in some light training, but it is more likely he will be brought back for the trip to the Madjeski Stadium on November 17.
Having the former Manchester United man back in action in time for December has been a priority for Moyes, with crunch games against Manchester City, Tottenham and Chelsea all taking place during a tough month, alongside a trip to Stoke and high-flying West Ham United.
It means Everton, who are also hoping Tony Hibbert will recover in time for the weekend, will have a fully fit squad as they attempt to strengthen their grip on fourth place in the Premier League.