With an ankle injury to Everton midfielder Gareth Barry still to be assessed, boss Roberto Martinez knows he has a ready-made replacement in Darron Gibson.
Gibson, who ruptured cruciate keen ligaments on international duty with the Republic of Ireland in October last year, played 77 minutes as a substitute after replacing Barry in the Toffees’ English Premier League draw with Sunderland.
His fitness comes just right in time if Barry faces a spell on the sidelines, although the prognosis is not as bad as first feared, so Gibson could be in for a lengthy run in the team.
Martinez said: “That’s important, obviously. Darron is still working hard to get to his best level of match fitness because he has been out for nearly a year with the injury he picked up with the national team, the Republic of Ireland.”
“But you saw him, he’s a phenomenal passer of the ball. He’s got an incredible technical ability and it’s great to have him in the team. That’s why you need a large squad full of quality.”
“It gives you really good competition for places, and that’s what you need.”