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 By Mike Whalley

Tim Howard not leaving Everton for MLS, says Roberto Martinez

Tim Howard's form for Everton has been mixed this season.

LIVERPOOL -- Everton manager Roberto Martinez insists that Tim Howard is his "perfect No. 1" amid reports linking the goalkeeper with a move to Major League Soccer.

The Daily Mail claimed in late January that three MLS clubs were considering a move for the 35-year-old.

Howard, who is under contract at Goodison Park until 2018 after signing a new deal last April, said in December that he was happy at Everton, and had no plans to return to U.S. club football, having left New York Metro Stars for Manchester United in 2003.

And Martinez expects the keeper to stay until the end of his contract rather than make a move to the MLS any time soon.

The manager said: "That's the first I've heard of it. Obviously, Tim has got a long-term contract here, which he signed in the summer.

"He's in the best moment of his career. When you're a goalkeeper of that age, you're starting to use your experience to influence the people around you.

"I think his level of goalkeeping has been terrific. His contract finishes after the next World Cup, and I don't think anything before that is going to tempt him to leave Everton. I don't think that's the case at all."

Martinez spent a significant part of the January transfer window looking unsuccessfully for a goalkeeper as Howard recovered from injury.

But although the manager will look again to sign a keeper on a long-term basis at the end of the season, he intends to retain Howard as his first choice.

Martinez said: "You're not going to get better goalkeepers than Tim Howard in the market, first and foremost because of what he represents at the club and what he brings to the dressing room.

"After that, you look at the amount of experience he's accumulated in the Premier League over more than 10 years.

"You look at the level he's shown over the last few seasons. He wants to reach bigger goals with the team. He's the perfect, perfect number one for us."

Martinez also confirmed Howard is in contention to return from injury for Saturday's Premier League match against Merseyside rivals Liverpool.

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