Phil Jagielka will miss Everton's FA Cup quarter-final against Wigan on Saturday, but manager David Moyes hopes the defender's absence will be a short one.
The 30-year-old suffered a badly gashed ankle in the opening minutes of last weekend's 3-1 Premier League victory over Reading after a challenge by Adam Le Fondre.
Moyes confirmed immediately after that match that Jagielka would need surgery to stitch up the wound, and he will not risk him against Wigan. John Heitinga is likely to line up alongside Sylvain Distin in central defence.
The Toffees boss refused to put a timescale on when Jagielka might return, but he would appear to be in contention for the home game against Manchester City next weekend.
"We think it'll be not too long before he's back. We hope we'll get him back quite quickly," he said.
Moyes added that he would make a late call on whether to restore goalkeeper Tim Howard, who missed the Reading match with a back injury - the first Premier League game he had missed since September 2007.
Former Slovakia international Jan Mucha, who replaced Howard last Saturday, will continue in goal if needed.
"Tim's doing OK," Moyes said. "We've not made a decision on him yet."
Moyes is hoping for FA Cup success as he bids to win his first trophy as Everton manager, with the club seeking to end a wait for silverware stretching back to 1995.
"The cup's important for us. It's important for everybody. No matter what anybody says, they want to get to the final. But we've got a few hard games if we're going to achieve that," Moyes said.
Midfielder Marouane Fellaini, meanwhile, has vowed to do all he can to steer clear of disciplinary trouble as he bids to play a full part in Everton's push for cup glory.
Fellaini missed the FA Cup fifth-round replay win over Oldham with an ankle injury, but returned against Reading to head his 12th goal of the season.
The Belgium international is aware that he has to watch his step with referees, having collected eight bookings this season. If he were to collect two more yellow cards before April 14, he would incur a two-match suspension.
Fellaini has already served two suspensions this season, having missed the 1-1 draw at home to Norwich on November 24 after picking up five bookings, then collecting a three-match ban over Christmas when television evidence showed he headbutted Ryan Shawcross off the ball as Everton were held 1-1 at Stoke on December 15.
"I will try not to get any yellow cards until April, but it might happen because this is football," Fellaini told Everton's official website.