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Tim Howard out up to six weeks with calf injury

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The American goalkeeper will watch as Luis Robles steps between the sticks for Everton.

Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images

Tim Howard will be out for at least five weeks, Everton manager Roberto Martinez has confirmed. The American goalkeeper suffered the injury on December 26 when he kicked a ball and had to be substituted off at halftime.

"Tim will be out for between five and six weeks," Martinez said.

"It is an injury to his left calf. As a goalkeeper it's really unusual to get an injury kicking a ball."

That is very true, and it's that kind of injury that could have led to Howard's one-year sabbatical from the United States team. It's also the kind of injury that could keep him from ever returning to the U.S.

One of the biggest reasons players retire from international play, and especially when they play for a club on another continent, is to have time off and to minimize travel as they age. They need more time to maintain their physical condition and more time to rest their older body if they want to continue playing at a high level. If not, their play will suffer and they will be more susceptible to small, but nagging injuries that weren't much of an issue when they were younger. You know, like a calf injury while kicking a ball.

The injury comes at an interesting time for Howard, whose play has dipped this season. Now Joel Robles steps into goal and, while he's not a great goalkeeper by any means, he may be able to put some pressure on Howard to possibly up the Americans' game. He'll have to up his game too because if he doesn't, even if he ends his sabbatical next fall, he won't be the United States' number one goalkeeper. That job will be Brad Guzan's for good.