Everton manager Roberto Martinez's preparations for Saturday's home match against Hull City took a hit with news that midfielder Darron Gibson will be sidelined for a lengthy period after sustaining a knee injury while on international duty with the Republic of Ireland.
The 25-year-old Gibson is to undergo surgery after damaging his ACL in Ireland's 3-1 win over Kazakhstan in on Tuesday evening.
"It was a real disappointment," Martinez said at a press conference on Thursday morning "I was watching the game and it was a real innocuous challenge.
"With the scans yesterday, the ACL is ruptured, but the knee reacted well and nothing else is damaged. The whole structure of the knee is perfectly fine. We look forward to seeing Darron back, hopefully this season. Darron is a sensational talent that is approaching the best moment of his career and, yes, it is a setback."
Martinez's side are unbeaten in their last 12 Premier League games at Goodison Park, which is the longest current unbeaten home run in the top flight. A 2-1 reverse against Chelsea in December 2012 was the last time the Toffees lost in front of their own fans.
Everton (3-3-1) saw their unbeaten start to the Premier League come to an end when they were beaten 3-1 at Manchester City just before the international break. The Toffees are seventh in the table with 10 points from seven matches, just one place and one point ahead of Hull, who drew 0-0 at home to Aston Villa last time out.
The Tigers (3-2-2) have kept back-to-back clean sheets and have not lost in four top-flight matches.
Hull striker Danny Graham, who is on a season-long loan from Sunderland, is still waiting to score his first goal for the Tigers, but the 28-year-old forward has insisted helping the Tigers get a good result at Everton is a higher priority than his own goals record.
"It'll be tough, it's a tough place to go but everyone is full of confidence and can't wait for the game," he told the Hull City official website. "It would obviously be nice to get the goal, but the most important thing is that the team is doing well. There are no egos or individuals in this team and everyone wants to do well for each other."
In addition to Gibson, Everton will be without South Africa midfielder Steven Pienaar (knee), Paraguay defender Antolin Alcaraz (groin) and Greece Under-21 striker Apostolos Vellios (knock).
Hull's top scorer Robbie Brady could make a quick return to action after undergoing surgery on a hernia, while James Chester (hamstring) and Robert Koren (ankle) will definitely miss the trip to Merseyside.
These sides last met in the 2009-2010 season, Hull's last in the top flight prior to this current term.
The home side won both matches, with the Toffees smashing Hull 5-1 at Goodison behind two goals from Mikel Arteta and one each from Landon Donovan and Jack Rodwell plus a Richard Garcia own goal. Tom Cairney scored the lone tally for the Tigers.
Hull scored three times in the first half-hour to beat Everton 3-2 at the KC Stadium in November 2009. Stephen Hunt, Andy Dawson and Dean Marney put the Tigers up 3-0 before Kamil Zayette scored in the wrong net and Louis Saha converted from the penalty spot on 65 minutes.
Everton have bagged 15 goals in their last five meetings with Hull, including a 2009-10 League Cup tie which they won 4-0 at the KC Stadium.
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