Tim Howard says Everton starting spot not in question
LONDON (AP) -- Tim Howard is sure his status as Everton's first-choice goalkeeper is secure, and doesn't feel threatened by the arrival of Joel Robles.
The 23-year-old Robles of Spain was one of new manager Roberto Martinez's first signings at Goodison Park, with the pair re-united after winning the FA Cup with Wigan in May.
Howard, though, has three years remaining on his Everton contract and expressed confidence that his starting spot won't be taken by Robles, who joined from Atletico Madrid after spending part of last season on loan at Wigan.
"I don't think that's ever been in question ... I have never asked for assurances (about my status),'' Howard said Thursday on a conference call launching NBC's Premier League coverage in the United States.
"I know where I stand. I think my performances over the last 450 games have merited my place where I am right now. Unless I have been asleep for a few months and forgotten something I think all is pretty well in my camp.''
The 34-year-old U.S. international described pre-season training as "intense'' under Martinez, with fatigue setting in during friendlies.
That, though, is to be expected and the team is now focused on the Aug. 17 league opener at Norwich - Martinez's first competitive game since filling the void left by David Moyes defecting to Manchester United.
"Change is good but I think the tough part about change is everyone is having to get on the same page,'' Howard said. "The manager and staff are needing to learn the players, and the players are having to learn the new system and new personalities on the staff. That part, though, has been a pretty seamless transition.''
Unlike international teammate Clint Dempsey, Howard has no immediate plans to return to the U.S. to play in Major League Soccer.
"I've got three years left on my (Everton) contract - that's what my future looks like - that's what's very concrete for me,'' he said. "Obviously I'm American, so when my time in England, in Europe, is done I'm going to live in America. I'm going to be in America.
"So if I'm fit and healthy when that time comes, I think anything's possible. But right now, I'm happy and I'm excited for the challenges that I've always had here at Everton.''
And an even bigger audience is expected to watch his talents back home from next season via NBC.
"The American sports fan is just so hungry for soccer now,'' Howard said, adding: "Everyone wants to watch the Premier League. Even other athletes in other sports are watching Premier League soccer just because it's so exciting.''
Copyright 2014 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.