DARRON GIBSON could be back in action with Everton before the end of the season as Toffees boss Roberto Martinez says that the Ireland midfielder is ahead of schedule in his recovery from a knee injury.
Gibson has been sidelined since he suffered knee ligament damage while in action for Ireland against Kazakhstan in October and it had been feared that he would miss the rest of the campaign. But Martinez feels that the Derry native could still feature, along with fellow injury victim Arouna Kone.
"It would be an incredible achievement for Darron and Arouna if they could wear the Everton shirt again before the season finishes in May," said Martinez.
"Darron has always been ahead of the expected progress. So he has a small chance. Even if it's just making the final home game, it would be terrific. He is running now and progressing well.
"Darron is the more likely of the two. From a medical point of view we shouldn't really expect either to be back before the end of the season.
"But to maybe have them back for the Manchester City game would end what has been a disappointing season for them both personally on a high note. They're both important to our set- up."
GUS POYET believes that John O'Shea's experience will be crucial for Sunderland in their League Cup final battle with Manchester City on Sunday.
Sunderland are hoping to land the trophy by overcoming City and Poyet hopes that the track record of players like O'Shea and Wes Brown will be a big help.
"The players are going to go out at the new Wembley on Sunday, look around them and think, 'Oh my God'. We are all different and handle it our own way," says Poyet.
"You have to manage it as a group and that's why experienced players like John and Wes are so valuable."