Belfast Telegraph

Howard: No Europa hangover for us

Tim Howard is convinced his Everton team-mates will not experience a Europa League hangover when they made a quick return to action against Crystal Palace at Goodison Park on Sunday.

Roberto Martinez's men built on last week's win at West Bromwich Albion with an emphatic 4-1 win over German side Wolfsburg to belatedly get their season up and running.

And given the nature of their recent performance the Everton goalkeeper believes tired limbs will be the last thing on his team-mates' mind as they itch to keep their good run going against Neil Warnock's side.

Howard said: "It's a positive - if you win you can stay on a good winning streak, and if you lose there's another game right there for you to prove yourself.

"I always think the more you play the less you have to train. Playing games keeps you ticking over and I feel when there're points to be had, it's easy to bounce back.

"These two results help. Against Leicester, Arsenal and Chelsea we played well but we were just a little bit frail in certain areas.

"We also knew if we could beat West Brom then double up and beat Palace we'd be right back in the thick of things so hopefully that will be the case."

Martinez is a big fan of Howard and admitted his disappointment that the American keeper was denied a deserved clean sheet on Thursday due to the visitors' last minute consolation strike.

And while the likes of Romelu Lukaku and Samuel Eto'o will continue hitting the headlines up front, Martinez cannot stress enough how Howard's presence breeds confidence in the other players.

"Tim got a lot of credit in the World Cup for his performance against Belgium, but for Evertonians it was just declaring the obvious," said Martinez.

"They have always seen Tim at that level and I have seen it for 13 months now. He is always focused and has a real concentration, and he is enjoying a very good moment of form."

Martinez could hand Eto'o his full home debut against Palace after the Cameroon veteran once again made an impact off the bench against Wolfsburg, setting up Kevin Mirallas' late strike.

The Everton boss has one concern with full-back Seamus Coleman facing a late fitness test after sustaining a knock on the head in the midweek clash.

Palace boss Neil Warnock has backed Phil Jagielka to answer his critics in the only way he knows how - with full-blooded performances for both Everton and England.

The 32-year-old defender played in the opening two games of England's ill-fated World Cup campaign alongside Chelsea's Gary Cahill but has since lost his place to Phil Jones.

Jagielka has also come under fire for some below-par displays at the heart of the Toffees defence as Martinez's side have shipped 10 goals in the early weeks of the Premier League season.

But Warnock has backed the man he brought into professional football at Sheffield United 14 years ago to show he can still cut it in the top flight.

''I think he's just got to be proud of what he's achieved really,'' Warnock said of his former Blades skipper.

''I had him as a lad and they were telling me he was a right-back or a central midfield player and together we found a position for him. To see him playing at the World Cup was a fantastic achievement for him and he's a smashing lad with a lovely family.

''The answer to the critics is what he did in the Europa League against Wolfsburg. I thought he was superb and that's the way to answer people, by turning out and playing.

''I'm sure the Everton fans might be even happier if he doesn't get picked for England because he does a wonderful job for Everton and has done for many years. I remember talking to David (Moyes) and Arsene Wenger and said, 'If we (Sheffield United) do get relegated then he's the one you want to sign'.

''He's just a level-headed lad. He'll not even bother about any criticism or anything, he just turns up for training each day.

''Managers have first names on the team sheet every week and he's one of those and Roberto is lucky to have him. He's a fabulous player and he'd get in every team in the Premier League, I think.''

Warnock will give forward Marouane Chamakh every chance to prove his fitness. The Morocco international has been struggling with a hamstring injury and will not be risked if there is a chance the problem could flare up once more at Goodison Park.

Deadline day acquisition Zeki Fryers is still waiting for his Palace debut whilst Kevin Doyle is in contention for his first start and Andrew Johnson could yet feature against one of his former clubs.

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