Sunderland are waiting to see how Lee Cattermole responds to an injection on his achilles as he continues to recover from a hip operation last year.
The midfielder has picked up the problem while working his way back to full fitness, but David Moyes remains hopeful that he will have the 28-year-old available for the last six weeks of the season.
Cattermole has not featured in the first team since the 3-2 defeat to Crystal Palace last September, and the team has suffered without his leadership and energy in the middle of the park.
There remains hope that he will return for what is likely to be a pivotal set of fixtures, including games against fellow strugglers Middlesbrough
Moyes said: "Lee Cattermole’s had a little bit of a problem with his Achilles so he’s had to get an injection, but that’s probably because of the running he’s doing coming back from his operation, so that’s added to that a little bit.
"I think when had his hip operation I in my head near enough ruled him out for the majority of the season, maybe in the hope to get back for the last four to six weeks. In my head that’s still the case, If I can get him back for that period then good, maybe with the way the fixtures are moving around at the moment we might have a bundle of games going on late on in April or May, there’s a good chance he could be available.
"I don’t know yet the outcome of his Achilles [injection] to say exactly whether it’s worked or not yet."
Moyes also issued a full injury update on the rest of his Sunderland squad, with Jordan Pickford set for a first team return at Goodison Park.
The game will come too soon for Jan Kirchhoff, however, who only returned to full training this week.
Moyes said: "Most people are back, Jordan Pickford’s had a good week training, he’s now available.
"Jan Kichhoff’s trained this week but it’s only his first few days, he’s had about three or four days. He’s not available yet but certainly getting much closer to it.
"Victor Anichebe’s had the brace taken off his knee, so hopefully that’s good news.
"Rodwell will start running today so that’s good news. Steven Pienaar has just felt his calf a little bit in training so until we’ve trained this morning I won’t be able to know exactly how he is."