Everton defender Tony Hibbert has spoken of his delight at his recent run of games in the first-team.
The 33-year-old right-back has made four successive appearances in all competitions for the Toffees, which is more than the entirety of last season.
First-choice right-back Seamus Coleman has been out since mid-September and therefore manager Roberto Martinez has called upon Hibbert to fill the young Irishman’s boots.
Despite some criticism coming his way after some defensive lapses, the player insisted that he is delighted with his run in the first-team.
Speaking on Everton’s official website, Hibbert said, “It’s been good to get back out there playing. It’s been a long time because I’ve had quite a few injuries and I’ve been trying to get back into the squad.
“The manager has shown some faith in me, given me a chance when the numbers were down and I’m happy with that.
“The manager stuck with me since Swansea really – I don’t think I was supposed to play as many games as I have, but there were injuries so he stuck with me.”
Hibbert’s first appeared for the Toffees in the 2000/1 season and since then, the player has made 262 league appearances.
Though he can be dependable in defensive terms, Hibbert is one of the few professional outfield players to have never scored a goal.
In the summer, he signed a two-year contract extension and therefore remains part of Martinez’s plans, if only as a squad player.
In terms of Martinez’s attacking style of play where the full-backs are expected to move up the pitch and contribute to attacks, Hibbert admitted that it can be difficult with regards to the physical demands of getting up and down the pitch.
“I think the system he plays means he’s [Martinez] happy for us to go forward and get involved more but we’ve also still got to keep a defensive mind in that when we do attack.
"We’ve got to keep our shape and be covering ourselves defensively.
“It’s difficult [getting up and down] – you’ve got to be fit to do it but you can pick and choose your times to get forward.
"But the system also means that if we do get caught out going forward, there may be one or two midfielders that can help out behind you.
“That’s the modern age now and the full-backs have to get forward as much as possible.”
With Coleman still out injured, it is expected that Hibbert’s run in the side will continue for at least Everton’s fixture with Aston Villa next week.