Everton captain Phil Jagielka will not be rushed back to offset the injury to fellow central defender Sylvain Distin, according to manager Roberto Martinez.
Distin sustained a hamstring problem in last weekend's win over Manchester United - the same complaint which has kept Jagielka sidelined since the end of February.
If the French defender does not recover in time to face Southampton on Saturday Martinez will be left with just John Stones, who himself has been filling in for Jagielka, and Antolin Alcaraz - who has played just five times since making his debut in December following an injury-troubled season after his summer move from Wigan.
But the Toffees boss has always been adamant Jagielka will only return when he is 100 per cent.
"Phil Jagielka has got his own programme and it is important that we follow that and we don't rush him back," he told evertontv.
"He has been involved with the first team training now and that is a really good sign.
"We want Phil back as quick as we can but not because we have got an injury with Sylvain.
"We aren't going to rush and do the wrong things in his individual programme.
"Phil is going to be fully fit very soon and I do expect that he will probably be able to make the squad against Manchester City (on May 3) and that's always been the plan.
"I do believe that we will be able to reach that."