David Moyes has admitted Tony Hibbert could miss the remainder of this season.
The Everton manager is hopeful the defensive stalwart could be seen again this term but confessed an extended absence remains a distinct possiblilty.
The 32-year-old right-back has been missing for the Blues since undergoing calf surgery in December.
Initially it was thought he would be back within two to three months but that now looks an optimistic target.
“I’m not sure if we will [see Tony this season],” said Moyes on Friday, before adding: "He might be back before the end with a bit of luck.”
Moyes also revealed Marouane Fellaini, Tim Howard and Victor Anichebe will need late fitness checks ahead of Saturday’s visit of Reading. For more team news, click here.