Howard set for Toffees return

Everton goalkeeper Tim Howard is set to make his return to action in Wednesday’s Barclays Premier League away clash with Chelsea.

Howard set for Toffees return

Tim Howard to start for Everton against Chelsea.

Everton goalkeeper Tim Howard is set to make his return to action in Wednesday’s Barclays Premier League away clash with Chelsea.

Howard has not yet featured in 2015 due to the calf problem he sustained in the 1-0 Boxing Day defeat to Stoke at Goodison Park.

Asked about the 35-year-old United States international at his press conference to preview the Chelsea game, Everton boss Roberto Martinez said: “Tim has been working really well.

“He trained well on Monday, so I expect that he is fully fit now for any sort of games.”

Joel Robles has been playing in goal for the Toffees since Howard suffered his injury and the 24-year-old Spaniard has kept clean sheets in his last three games, including Saturday’s Merseyside derby.

Martinez has expressed his delight at the form his compatriot has shown, but at the same time made it clear Howard will be reclaiming the starting spot from Robles.

“Whenever Tim is fit, he is our number one, with the experience he has and what he represents in the squad,” the manager said.

“I have total faith in him and it is great to see him fit and training again and having a massive influence in our squad.

“The goalkeeping position is different to any outfield one – I do feel the outfield positions are more about moments of form, ways of playing against the opposition, different ways of approaching games.

“But in goal, I think you need a bit of stability.

“Joel has been really good – I have been so pleased with his last two performances.

“I think the clean sheets against Crystal Palace and Liverpool have shown the size of the goalkeeper we have.

“He is still a young man in terms of amount of games, but he is someone with a real good future. I have been so proud of his performances.”

Leighton Baines is to be assessed before the game.

Leighton Baines, who missed the 0-0 home draw with Liverpool on Saturday after failing a late fitness test on his knee, looks likely to sit out Wednesday's match as well, although Martinez has not completely ruled out the full-back taking part.

“It is difficult at the moment to see him involved, but we will see how he is today,” Martinez said.

“We will assess him again and we’ll make a final decision closer to the game.”

Aiden McGeady is a definite absentee due to the knee injury that kept him out of the derby, and Tony Hibbert (unspecified), Leon Osman (foot) and Steven Pienaar (knee) also remain unavailable, while James McCarthy – back in the team on Saturday after a period sidelined by a hamstring problem – will be assessed.

“With James we need to make sure we assess him again because we don’t want to give him too much work too early,” Martinez added.

“We need to see if we can get him fully fit before we put him on the pitch again.”

Christian Atsu, the winger on loan from Chelsea who has been playing at the African Nations Cup with Ghana, is not eligible to face his parent club and will join up with Everton again on Friday.

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