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Last Updated: Friday, 11 August 2006, 14:04 GMT 15:04 UK
Everton defender has rare illness
Everton defender Tony Hibbert
Defender Hibbert has only played twice in pre-season
Everton defender Tony Hibbert will miss the start of the season after being struck down with a rare illness.

The 25-year-old full-back has been diagnosed with cryptosporidium parasite, an illness transmitted through infected water or food.

Everton physiotherapist Mick Rathbone told the club website: "It seems Tony has picked up a parasite, presumably when he was on his holidays.

"There is no actual treatment for it. But he should, in time, fight it off."

He added: "It may take days or weeks. We don't really know. We see Tony every day and he seems a lot better every day. But he hardly ate for seven to 10 days and he isn't eating that much now.

"He lost more than half a stone so he is not going to return quickly. He is getting a further check this weekend and if that shows the parasite is beaten, he would still need a little bit of work before even thinking of playing a game."



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