DAVID SMITH - Tuesday, December 30, 2014
Everton starting keeper Tim Howard is expected to be sidelined for up to six weeks, the team confirmed on Tuesday, after suffering a calf injury in their Boxing Day loss to Stoke.
Howard was forced to leave Everton's Dec. 26 game against Stoke at halftime with an apparent calf muscle pull, and after several days to evaluate the injury, the team confirmed that he is set to be sidelined into February.
"Tim will be out for between five and six weeks," Everton head coach Roberto Martinez admitted in a press conference Tuesday morning.
The injury is a tough blow for the Toffees, who are struggling mightily in their current Premiere League campaign.
In their followup to the Stoke loss, the defense anchored by backup keeper Joel Robles blew a one-goal lead to fall to Newcastle by a 3-2 scoreline on Sunday, and overall they have won just five times through their first 19 games.
While the breakneck pace of league and potential FA Cup games around the holiday season will put significant pressure on Robles to step up his game, the six-week timeline should see Howard return in time for their two-legged Europa League round of 32 encounter with Young Boys Bern, which is set to commence on Feb. 19.
Howard, who was recently named CONCACAF goalkeeper of the year as well as US Soccer male athlete of the year in recognition of his strong club play and exploits in the 2014 World Cup, is in the midst of a one-year hiatus from national team duty.