Everton manager David Moyes hopes that Phil Jagielka will return to training next week but it may be another month before he is match-fit.
The defender tore cruciate knee ligaments at the end of last season and, in a similar scenario to team-mate Mikel Arteta, has suffered numerous setbacks.
Arteta has returned to the fold after making two substitute appearances in recent weeks, however, Jagielka is still at least four weeks away from playing in games.
Moyes, though, hopes the former Sheffield United centre-back will return to first-team training next week.
"He is doing okay. He has had a couple of complications, so we have to get him right," Moyes told the Liverpool Echo of Jagielka.
"But like Mikel we will try and get him back as soon as we can. He is, and has been, so important to us.
"We hoped he would have been back in the first week of January, and back when Jo had gone, but he has had one or two things, cartilage and the fat pad in his knee has been causing problems.
"We need to get him up and running. It might take another four weeks until he is ready. Everything being well, he may join in training next week."