Everton v Fulham
Everton boss Roberto Martinez says he expects to have Leighton Baines back to full fitness within a fortnight - but won't rule out a return against Fulham this weekend.
That remains an unlikely scenario, though previous hopes that the left-back would be fit for the hectic festive run-in now look set to be realised.
Martinez is without the suspended James McCarthy for the visit of the Cottagers after the midfielder picked up his fifth yellow card of the season at Arsenal last weekend.
"Well, it’s one of those injuries that is so frustrating," said the Toffees chief on Thursday. "Leighton is feeling great but then when you’re trying to do some work, you realise that you’ve still got the period to heal the [toe] fracture and you need to give it a bit more time.
"I don’t think he’ll be available for Saturday, even though I wouldn’t discount him. But it will probably be a couple of weeks more realistically.
"Obviously this Saturday is a very important game at home, and then you go straight into four games in a 10-day period and it’s going to be really, really demanding.
"We want to be strong in the FA Cup as well and it will be vital for us to have Leighton fully fit."
Martinez also confirmed all the players who have featured in recent weeks are available for Saturday's game, with only Tony Hibbert sustaining a minor knock.
The right-back has appeared just once for the Blues this campaign and has suffered a slight knee problem that is expected to keep him in the treatment room for three to four days.
Arouna Kone and Darron Gibson are both long-term absentees, with Martinez having previously admitted the duo are unlikely to feature again this term.
"The injuries are Leighton Baines and the long-term injuries to Darron and Arouna - everyone else is fit," he added.
"Antolin Alcaraz has been training really well. Tony Hibbert had a little bit of a setback and should be back next week, but everyone else is fit and available."
Fulham have endured their joint worst ever start to a Premier League season, with just 13 points coming from their first 15 games.
However, with new manager René Meulensteen at the helm, a fresh air of positivity appears to be surrounding Craven Cottage.
Indeed, last weekend's 2-0 win over Aston Villa - Meulensteen's second match in charge - was a first in eight games and ended a run of seven straight defeats.
Everton, meanwhile, go into the game with confidence soaring.
The Blues continued their impressive recent form with a succession of excellent performances last week – an emphatic 4-0 victory against Stoke, a historic win at Old Trafford and a solid, plaudit-earning draw at the league-leading Arsenal.
Just two points adrift of second place, Martinez's men will hope to take advantage of the top-of-the-table fixtures around the league this weekend and extend their current unbeaten stretch to nine games.
Fulham 2-1 Everton, 24 September 2013
Everton will be on the hunt for revenge on Saturday after Fulham edged them out of the Capital One Cup at Craven Cottage in September.
A signature Gerard Deulofeu run and assist led to Everton going in at the break 1-0 up, with Steven Naismith the man to benefit from the Spaniard's trademark trickery.
Yet ice-cool Bulgarian Dimitar Berbatov levelled things up on 54 minutes before Darren Bent stepped off the bench to turn the tie on its head with 22 minutes remaining.
Deulofeu continued to create chances but it wasn't to be for Roberto Martinez's men as the hosts went through to round four.
Fulham, however, travel north on Saturday with the statistics firmly on the home team’s side.
Without a league win to their name on the Blue half of Merseyside, Fulham have suffered defeat in 13 of their 14 Premier League visits to Goodison Park.
In total, the two sides have met 25 times in the league in L4, with Everton winning 21 and the remaining four contests resulting in draws.
Goodison Park is set to be transformed into a Winter Wonderland for the Blues’ final home game before Christmas and Evertonians are invited to get to the stadium early and join in the festivities in the Fan Zone.
Blue Santa and his reindeer will be waiting to meet junior fans in a special Everton grotto and there will also be a host of Christmas giveaways, including blue Santa hats and live entertainment.
And to put the finishing touches to the Winter Wonderland, there will be a Goodison ice rink and snow machine to get supporters into the Christmas spirit!
Get down to the Fan Zone from 1pm to join in the festive fun.
Tickets for the game are still available, starting from just £32 for adults and only £16 for Under-16s.
Secure your seat now by clicking here or calling 0871 663 1878. Alternatively, visit the Park End Box Office at Goodison Park, Everton Two in Liverpool One or TicketQuarter in Queen Square.