Everton are hopeful that Leighton Baines will not be forced to have surgery on his troublesome ankle.
Baines, who joined Everton from Wigan last summer, has been struggling with the injury since October.
The left-back has been able to play for David Moyes' side, but the problem has restricted his bid to return to full fitness.
Head physio Mick Rathbone has explained that surgery may cure the injury; however the club are keen to avoid the procedure if possible.
Rathbone told the club's official website: "He's developed some pain at the back of the ankle that only manifests itself when he kicks the ball hard.
"There is a surgical procedure that might need to be done, but hopefully like all things it will get better without surgery and at the moment he is technically available for games.
"There's nothing worse for a player - if you're injured you're injured, if you're fit, you're fit. But to be in that grey area in between is tough, but surgery is to be avoided if possible, and he understands that."
Meanwhile, goalkeeper Iain Turner is recovering well after surgery on a serious hip problem, and is considered to be 'three or four weeks' away from returning to fitness.