David Moyes has admitted Darron Gibson will most likely need surgery to rid him of his troublesome thigh problem.
Gibson has started each of Everton’s last six games but has already endured two extended spells on the sidelines this term.
Moyes is hopeful of keeping the Irishman fit until the end of the season but speaking on Friday conceded an operation may ultimately prove unavoidable.
“Darron has a wee bit of calcification at the top of his thigh,” he said. “I think we are in control of him but there is a danger. We thought he might have needed an operation earlier in the year but the medical staff have managed it well.
“We think we can get away with it just now, but he is going to need it some time.”
Moyes also accepted the injury may have hindered Gibson’s performances in recent weeks – though that won’t stop him asking more of the midfielder as the crucial final stage of the season closes in.
“I think he can offer more but maybe it is just the injury holding him back a bit,” added the Blues boss. “I don’t question his character because he had come from a club that instils that in you. We are not going to let him roll over so we can tickle his belly.
“He is going to have to get up and get on with it and he has done that to be fair to him.
“The injury has tempered him from shooting and taking corners. That is a big part of his game and at times I have considered not using him, but he has done okay.
“He can get better and I keep trying to prod at him.”