Everton defender Tony Hibbert is winning his battle to be fit for the FA Cup semi-final, while versatile Tim Cahill could make a surprise return to the side at the weekend.
Hibbert has been out with a thigh strain since the February 28 home win over West Brom. And although he has not set a date for his return, the trip to Wembley to face Manchester United on April 19 is now a possibility.
Hibbert has been concentrating on strengthening his calf muscle to reduce the chance of similar injuries in the future. He said: "It's settled down a lot quicker than was first thought. I'm not going to push it yet, and we've got a game in mind for my return."
He continued: "It's just a waiting game now. I'm running which is good, and the injury has settled down an awful lot.
"I'm concentrating on working hard and building up the muscle more so in future I don't have the same problems again, although I haven't started kicking a ball yet.
"I hate watching matches when I'm injured. It's frustrating, and it's even worse because of the run we were having.
"I hate watching but it was just one of those situations you have to put up with, if you're a footballer you'll get injuries.
"And as far as the semi-final is concerned, that would be a massive game at Wembley and what an occasion to play in."
Cahill damaged a calf muscle in the 3-1 win at home to Stoke last Saturday and did not appear in the second half of the match. It had been believed the Australian would be unlikely to recover in time to play in the Saturday lunchtime match at Portsmouth.
But he is responding well to treatment and is now considered to have a chance of facing the relegation threatened south-coast side.
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