DARRON GIBSON will require surgery on a thigh problem at the end of the season, thus delaying talk about his international comeback until the autumn.
The Derry native is on a break from Ireland duty after falling out with Giovanni Trapattoni over his non-involvement at Euro 2012, and he has been the subject of speculation around each Irish gathering.
Trapattoni has indicated that he would like to have the midfielder in his plans, but there has been no indication from Gibson that he is ready to return under current management; he turned down the chance to link up with the squad for the World Cup qualifiers with Sweden and Austria last month.
With Everton manager David Moyes suggesting that the player requires a summer break, his international future looks set to be off the agenda until the autumn.
Gibson scored his second Everton goal in Saturday's 2-0 win over QPR and was praised by his manager, who feels that an operation may increase his ability to shoot from long distance.
"After the game, I was asked about Darron's goal and his shot – I think he could do it more and with more ferocity as well because he's got a great shot on him," said Moyes. "He has got a bit of a problem at the top of his thigh which will probably require an operation at the end of the season."
Gibson is an established regular in the Everton midfield, and will be involved tonight in the battle with Arsenal that will have a big say on both clubs' Champions League prospects.
Moyes feels that the 25-year-old's passing ability sets him apart from his alternative options
"What he has given us is that he is good on the ball and he has a better range of passing than maybe some of the midfielders we have," said the Scot yesterday.
"He had a bit of a dip midway through after he came back from his injury but his form is good right now."
Gibson was frustrated not to see a minute's action in the Euros after following Trapattoni's advice and leaving Manchester United in January 2012 in a bid to develop by lining out on a weekly basis. He hasn't been involved in a competitive game for his country since the Everton switch.