Roberto Martinez has praised Everton stalwart and academy product Tony Hibbert and said he is the perfect player to have around the squad.
Reports have claimed that the right-back was set to be offered a new deal, despite a troubling year wracked with injuries and Martinez says the club will sit down with the 32 year old at the end of the season and take it from there.
Martinez told evertontv: “It’s one of those situations; at the end of the season, we’ll sit down and we’ll ask Tony how he feels and we’ll take it from there.
“Tony is one of those unique players you have at a football club who represents the football club and what you do on a daily basis – someone who sets the standards and helps the youngsters.
“Tony has had such a terrific career that it is not the time to look into his future. Tony has earned the respect of our football club to, at the end of every season, sit down and, more importantly, [allow us to] ask him how he feels and what he wants to do. He will always have a role at Everton, always.”
Martinez has started that Hibbo faces a tough job if he is to regain his place in the side following the form of Seamus Coleman, but feels he still has a vital part to play in the squad.
He said: “It’s all great for me to talk about the roles that he has, but he’s a footballer, he wants to play and now he’s fully fit he wants to get perfectly match fit – but then he needs to fight for his place.
“Now we’ve got six months of competition during which time Tony is going to look forward to trying to earn his spot back and making sure he’s got a big role in the side as well.”
Hibbert made his debut for Everton in the 2001 season and has since gone on to make 315 appearances for the club, but is out of contract at the end of this current season. Hibbert has only made one start for Roberto Martinez since he came to the club due to injuries, but Everton are set to offer him a new one year contract.
With Leighton Baines injured until the new year, Hibbert could see himself employed as a temporary left-back if Martinez chooses to go down that route.
Current right-back incumbent Seamus Coleman spoke this admiration for Hibbo and says the scouser keeps him on his toes and playing well
“Tony Hibbert has been one of the best right-backs in the Premier League for years now and so nothing less than my absolute best in every game and every training session will be good enough,” Coleman told reporters
“I set myself very high standards and I just want to be the best I can be at all times. It’s the only way to be at Premier League level.”
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