Gibson moves closer to return
Published 03/04/2014 | 14:27
Everton midfielder Darron Gibson is edging closer to a return to first-team training as his rehabilitation from a knee operation continues.
The Republic of Ireland international suffered an injury to a cruciate ligament playing for his country against Kazakhstan in September having made just one appearance for his club this season.
Manager Roberto Martinez has remained optimistic the 26-year-old could return before the end of the campaign and he will start taking tentative steps towards that in the near future.
"Darron is working well and is going to join the group very soon," said the Toffees boss.
"Then it's about seeing how he can adapt to the demands of working with the group.
"He is out on the grass, though he hasn't joined in with the group yet. That's not going to be too far away with how he is recovering.
"The one-to-one work is showing really well and I don't think he is going to be too far away from joining in with the group, which is a real success in itself."
Martinez said Gibson had progressed quicker than expected and playing again this season would speak volumes about the midfielder's character.
"He is well ahead of schedule and that always pleases me, to see a player get ahead of the timing because it shows all the hard work they put in behind the scenes when nobody is watching," the Spaniard told evertontv.
"The desire of Darron has been sensational in that respect and to have him around the place is a great sign.
"It will be great for him to be involved one way or another before the season ends, even though that would be an incredible and remarkable achievement since looking back on when the injury happened with the national team."
The club have announced Goodison Park will be opened on the 25th anniversary of the Hillsborough Disaster to screen the memorial service for the 96 victims being held across Stanley Park at Anfield.
Martinez will give a speech at the service itself on April 15 but Toffees chairman Bill Kenwright will be in attendance at Goodison with the rest of the first team squad to watch the live screening.
"Two much-admired, world famous football clubs have stood shoulder-to-shoulder since the unimaginable tragedy at Hillsborough some 25 years ago," said Kenwright.
"Everton will continue to provide support whenever we can to the remarkable Hillsborough Family Support Group.
"We are proud of them, and for them. We also know that the compassion and fraternity that transcends our city would have been there, unswerving and unconditional, if the balls (in the FA Cup semi-final draw) had simply come out of the bag differently prior to that fateful day."
After the screening Everton will hold a short memorial of their own after which a group of local school children will lead a procession from Goodison Park to Anfield, holding 96 linked football scarves to represent the unity of Everton and Liverpool since the disaster in 1989.
Last week, Everton announced they would erect a Hillsborough memorial plaque to pay tribute to the 96 fans who lost their lives at Hillsborough.