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Gibson close to return for the Toffees

EVERTON hope to have Darron Gibson available for first-team duties again after the Ireland international came though a reserve game unscathed.

The Derry man had been out of action for two months due to a thigh injury but he managed to play for more than an hour in a reserve clash with Reading on Saturday.

"I thought he did great," Toffees reserve boss Alan Stubbs said. "He's come through the game unscathed so that's a plus point and it's good for him that he's come through it and it's a step in the right direction for his recovery."

IRELAND international Damien Delaney is in line for a new contract with Championship table-toppers Crystal Palace.

The Cork native joined Palace from Ipswich Town on a short-term deal in August which expires in January but he has made a big impression with the Eagles and boss Ian Holloway wants the 31-year-old to agree a long-term contract.

Former Palace boss Dougie Freedman had hoped to take Delaney to Bolton Wanderers.

DERBY COUNTY boss Nigel Clough has defended Irish striker Conor Sammon who is struggling for confidence after scoring just twice in 16 games for the Rams since his £1m move from Wigan.

"It is the first time he has played regular first-team football in 18 months and so you are going to get that inconsistency," said Clough. "The ball is bouncing off him a bit too much at the moment but there is no lack of effort from him."

SIMON Madden has told Derry City manager Declan Devine that he wants to stay on at the Brandywell next season.

The 24-year-old Dubliner was linked with a number of sides after a fine season for Derry as he helped the Candystripes lift the FAI Cup, but he's now agreed a new one-year deal.