Everton skipper Tim Howard will be sidelined for between five to six weeks with a calf injury, according to manager Roberto Martinez.
The 35-year-old American shot-stopper was substituted at half-time during Everton’s 1-0 home defeat by Stoke City on Boxing Day.
“Tim will be out for between five and six weeks,” he said. “It is an injury to his left calf. As a goalkeeper it’s really unusual to get an injury kicking a ball.”
He was replaced by Spanish goalkeeper Joel Robbles, who went on to figure in Sunday’s 3-2 defeat at Newcastle United.
Martinez said: “I thought Joel was very calm against Stoke and did well against Newcastle. But we will assess whether we need cover.”
The loss at St. James’ Park was the ‘Toffees’s’ third in the space of nine days, with a host of first team players missing through injury.
Martinez also confirmed that midfielder James McCarthy, Joss Stones and Phil Jagielka will be assessed before the side’s trip to Hull City on New Year’s day, while Darren Gibson is out of contention. The game against Hull has come too early for Steven Piennar, who is still recovering from his knee problem.
“Phil Jagielka twisted his ankle against Stoke and John Stones got a strong knock to the same ankle we operated on earlier in the season,” Martinez explained.
“We’ll need to assess them on a daily basis. It’s really difficult to predict how long they will be out.
“James McCarthy will be assessed for Thursday. It’s too early to say at the moment. It was more of a precaution [that he was withdrawn] against Newcastle rather than an injury – he couldn’t continue, but we’ll have to be careful that he gets back to being fully fit before he faces the demands of a full 90-minute game.”
Everton are currently 12th in the table, five points above the relegation zone.