Everton midfielder James Garner is set for an extended spell on the sidelines with a back injury.
The summer signing from Manchester United missed the recent tour of Australia with the problem and is now expected to be out of action for around two months.
As a result, he is almost certain to miss Everton’s first batch of games in December and January after the resumption of the Premier League, starting with the visit of Wolves on Boxing Day.
Garner has made seven appearances since joining for initial £9million, most recently starting in the 4-1 Carabao Cup defeat by Bournemouth this month. He was replaced in the second half of that game after suffering injury and has not featured since.
Meanwhile, fellow midfielder Tom Davies (knee) and defender Yerry Mina (hamstring) are also expected to be out for three to four weeks.
Manager Frank Lampard is likely to plug some of the gaps in his squad with talented players from the club’s under-21 side, with midfielder Isaac Price among those to impress during the tour of Australia.
Everton finished the tour with a 5-1 victory over Western Sydney Wanderers on Wednesday.
Lampard confirmed after the game that Price, winger Stanley Mills and forward Tom Cannon will all remain with the first-team group in the short-term.
The squad will now have a break before returning to training and ramping up their preparations for the resumption of the Premier League.
Everton’s Australia tour: Attacking solutions, transition success and Price excels
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