Ross Barkley returns to Everton

The 18-year-old moved to Hillsborough on an initial one-month deal but that was later extended

Everton will welcome back midfielder Ross Barkley this week after the teenager's loan spell at Sheffield Wednesday came to an end.

The 18-year-old moved to Hillsborough on an initial one-month deal but that was later extended by another four weeks and had injuries not struck the first team he could have expected to stay longer.

However, with captain Phil Neville likely to be out for two months after a knee operation, Kevin Mirallas and Victor Anichebe sidelined with a hamstring injuries and defender Tony Hibbert's calf problem keeping him out, David Moyes' squad is starting to get stretched.

Barkley's stay with Wednesday came to an end after Saturday's defeat to Nottingham Forest and he leaves South Yorkshire with 12 starts, one substitute appearance and four goals to his name.

There is some good news for Moyes on the injury front as midfielder Darron Gibson made his first appearance since early September for the under-21s yesterday.

The Republic of Ireland international has missed 10 matches with a thigh problem but is now on the way back into first-team contention.

"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," coach Alan Stubbs told evertontv.

"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."

PA

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