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Stoke City (A) Wed 4 Mar 2015, 19:45, Barclays Premier League

by Adam Clark @efc_adamclark

Sylvain Distin is a doubt for Saturday's visit of West Bromwich Albion after picking up a knock in the opening day draw at Norwich.

Tony Hibbert could be involved however, the full-back having resumed full training on Monday.

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Manager Roberto Martinez has labelled midfielder Darron Gibson "50/50" to return from a knee injury but summer signing Antolin Alcaraz remains sidelined by a hamstring problem.

"Sylvain Distin is the one we're a little bit concerned about," said Martinez on Thursday. "But knowing Sylvain, you can never say that he's not going to be available at the weekend.

"Tony is fully fit and he's reacted really well [to training]. It's now about making sure we get him available as quick as we can.

"I would imagine he's going to be available for the games very soon - probably Saturday, if not Wednesday. It's as close as that.

"Antolin is still right on time. The period of recovery is exactly what we expected. For him now, it's about stepping up and looking at being involved with the group - probably in the next two weeks.

"Darron Gibson is progressing really, really well. It's one of those injuries where you need to be very, very careful you don't come back too early. It's right in the middle of the ligament in the knee. He's still 50/50 for the weekend but I don't expect it to be much longer after that."

Hibbert hasn't featured since July's pre-season friendly at Blackburn Rovers and Martinez paid tribute to the Club's medical team for helping him back to fitness so early on in the campaign.

"It's been great to have him around again," he said. "You're always a little bit worried about how the first session is going to go but the medical department have done a tremendous job to build him up correctly."

If Distin doesn't make the game, Martinez could turn to John Heitinga, a man who has impressed his boss with his attitude so far this summer.

He added: "Of course it's hard to keep John happy. The moment you've got a player who is happy not playing then you really do have a problem.

"John has been fantastic with his work and the way he's been fighting for his place. He brings something completely different to the squad and I'm glad he's here working the way he does.

"He is vastly experienced and comes from a background which I really love, that is the Dutch way of playing. I see Johnny as somebody who can play a couple of different roles.

"He's always a big influence, whether he's playing games or not Johnny is a good influence on the standards daily here and our youngsters can pick up a lot from him."

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