Gibson closing in on Everton return

Toffees coach Alan Stubbs is pleased with the midfielder's recovery from injury after making his first appearance since September in a draw against Reading for the Under-21s
Everton coach Alan Stubbs has confirmed that midfielder Darron Gibson is making good progress as he steps up his recovery from a thigh problem.

The Republic of Ireland international, who has been sidelined since sustaining the injury in September, made his comeback in a 65-minute appearance for the Under-21s in a 0-0 draw with Reading on Sunday.

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Stubbs is pleased with the player's progress and hopes he can soon provide a selection headache to manager David Moyes, following confirmation that Phil Neville could be out of action for up to eight weeks after undergoing a knee operation.

The 41-year-old told the club's official website: "I thought he did great. 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.

"It's important give or take, Phil's news. It was important to get Darron back and give the manager another selection dilemma.

"It makes it more important now that Phil has had the operation but it's just good to get Darron back playing again."

Gibson has made 18 appearances for Everton since joining from Manchester United in January, scoring once.