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Arsenal can lay down a marker

Arsenal
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Howard ruled out of FA Cup clash

Everton goalkeeper Tim Howard has been ruled out of the FA Cup quarter-final clash against Wigan at Goodison Park.

Howard sustained a back injury in the FA Cup fifth-round replay against Oldham Athletic and has not been able to recover quickly enough to take his place in goals against the Premier League rival.

Novice 'keeper Jan Mucha will continue to deputise for the American shot-stopper.

"Tim is out against Wigan. He has broken two bones in his back," Everton manager David Moyes said. "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."

However, the Everton boss did allay any fears the injury would rule the 34-year-old Howard out for the Toffees fight to claim a place in Europe next season.

"We don't think he will be out for the season," he said. "I read that (Newcastle defender Fabricio) Coloccini could be out for seven weeks 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."

It's the second injury blow for Everton heading into the quarter-final show-down with Wigan, with defender Phil Jagielka succumbing to a badly gashed ankle he suffered against Reading last week.

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