sport

Gibson nearing Everton return

Everton midfielder Darron Gibson has recovered faster than expected from knee surgery and will be back in full training 'very soon'.

The Republic of Ireland player suffered a cruciate ligament injury while on international duty against Kazakhstan in September, with just one club appearance to his name for the season.

Manager Roberto Martinez is optimistic the 26-year-old will play for the first team before the end of the current campaign, a feat he has described as 'a real success'.

"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 faster than expected and playing again this term 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 said.

"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."