Everton Lose Their Backbone

Everton goalkeeper Tim Howard. Photo: Picture: Martin Rickett/PA Archive/Press Association Images

Everton goalkeeper Tim Howard will be out of action for up to a month after breaking two bones in his back.

The American, who's been in fine form for the Blues this season, picked up the injury during the FA Cup win over Oldham last week.

He's expected to miss a crucial stage of Everton's season, with the club still in the FA Cup and pushing for a place in Europe.

Manager David Moyes has confirmed that Howard would be replaced by Slovakia international Jan Mucha for the quarter-final against Wigan.

"We don't think he will be out for the season," he said.

"I read that (Newcastle's Fabricio) Coloccini could be out for seven weeks (with a similar injury) but we are not sure how long Tim will be out for because, obviously with a goalkeeper, he has to dive around and hit the ground.

"I have let him go away for a few days. It might be that, if everything goes well, he misses next week's game as well [against Manchester City] and then because of the international break he might be close after the rest because that would be four weeks.

"He has two fractures, but they are not bones that are supporting anything. It is off the spine. They are not weight-bearing. It just needs a bit of healing time. It is not like a pure fracture where you need to wait to look at it. It is a question of whether he can cope with the pain. The bones will heal themselves but it's not good."