Search for fresh faces is Tim Howard's way also

By Ian Doyle on Jul 31, 08 09:43 AM in Journalists

IT'S a scene being played out at the homes of many Evertonians this summer. Desperate for any smidgeon of transfer gossip, supporters are scouring the newspapers, trawling the internet and flicking manically through television channels in search of even the tiniest rumour.

Hours are lost fuelling the addiction of knowing who is interested in whom, which player is moving where and, more importantly, any snippet of Everton-related news.

Those fans might be surprised to learn they are not alone in this quest for information.

For Tim Howard, nearly every day of his summer break involved a similar ritual as he attempted to keep up to speed with developments back at Goodison Park.

And the goalkeeper reveals his team-mates are just as keen to share that sense of excitement and anticipation ahead of another season.

"The rest of the squad are human like everybody else, we're always reading the papers and looking at the internet to see what's happening and what the latest news is," says Howard.

"When my family were on our holidays, my wife would keep on saying the same thing to me: 'Oh, you're not on there again are you!'.

"I'd go on all the websites before the kids would get up, drinking my coffee and seeing what was going on, who was signing who. You get excited about it looking at that.

"I think everybody knows that we need to get more players in to the squad. We're going to hopefully be playing a lot of games this season."

Of particular interest to Howard has been Everton's pursuit of a goalkeeper to act as his deputy.

Interest in Serbian goalkeeper Vladimir Stojkovic ended after a short trial while Moyes has played down rumours of a move for Guillermo Ochoa of Mexican side Club America.

"I knew before the end of the season when Stefan Wessels' contract wasn't being renewed that we'd be bringing a goalkeeper in," says Howard. "I've seen us linked with a few, but we'll have to see who comes in. It's been interesting to watch!"

Everton have had to do without Howard for much of pre-season, the US international returning from his extended break when linking up with squad after they touched down in Chicago on Saturday evening.

And it was straight down to hard work for the goalkeeper, who was in action in the early hours of this morning against MLS team Chicago Fire.

"You need the time off, but when you take the time off you slow down and it's so hard to get yourself back up and running again," says Howard. "But you have to do it, it's a necessary evil. But it's good to be back in and I need it. I had a real good break. I literally put my feet up every day. After the Newcastle game at the end of last season, I had 10 days off then four-and-a-half weeks on the road, but the gaffer was great.

"You know it, you expect it, so you've just got to roll with it. My body is screaming at me, the aches and pains are coming back. But it's going to need it."

Everton have visited the States for four of their last five pre-season tours, with Howard a part of the last three trips to Columbus and Dallas in 2006 and Salt Lake City and Los Angeles last season.

And for the New Jersey-born 29-year-old, the lure of America for a Premier League club is obvious.

"This is my sixth pre-season with an English club, and four of them have been to America, one with Manchester United and three with Everton," he says. "I think the weather is part of the reason why the States is so popular, but it's also because nobody bothers you here.

"That's part of the reason we come here. We can get together and we can build on that and bring it in to the season.

"You've got the restaurants, shopping centres and movie theatres downtown and I think that's a big draw for when you are away from training. The players love it. We wish we could come here every year!"

The squad fly out to Denver this morning for the second leg of their tour in preparation for Sunday's game against Colorado Rapids at the magnificently-titled Dick's Sporting Goods Park.

Everton know from their experience last year, when they were humbled 2-0 by Real Salt Lake, that MLS standards are improving every year.

And Howard anticipates another tough work-out. "The hard part about playing MLS teams in the summer is the fact you are playing through your training while they are match fit," he says.

"They are in mid-season form, so no matter what level they are they'll be blazing on all cylinders.

"I've played MLS and played against AC Milan and Bayern Munich and other top teams, and for the MLS players it's an opportunity to test and showcase themselves."

This Stateside sojourn, of course, is all in preparation for the new campaign, which begins a fortnight on Saturday. And, after Everton's continued improvement last season, Howard cannot wait.

"The success we had last season has made me even hungrier for this season to start," he says. "During my first season at Everton, I was trying to feel things out, see what the club is like and where we could finish.

"To finish sixth and then fifth and to have some of the small successes that we achieved, and some of the cup runs we had, I'm really optimistic for the new campaign.

"We've got European football again to look forward to and we just have to keep on going as we have been."

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