LIVERPOOL -- Tim Howard is set to keep his Everton place as they look to ensure Europa League progress on Thursday despite recent errors, manager Roberto Martinez has indicated.
The U.S. international goalkeeper faced blame for both of the goals his side conceded as they drew 2-2 at home to bottom club Leicester in the Premier League on Sunday.
RM: "Tim needs to play and get his match fitness. It's not an issue. You need experience on European nights." https://t.co/ZFs9YtjO5u
- Everton (@Everton) February 25, 2015
Howard got into a mix-up with defender John Stones that allowed David Nugent to score Leicester's first, and the keeper then flapped at a Riyad Mahrez cross before Esteban Cambiasso scored the second.
The 35-year-old has played three times after eight matches out with a calf injury, having been recalled for the Premier League game at Chelsea on Feb. 11 even though his deputy, Joel Robles, had just kept three successive clean sheets.
Martinez, though, intends to stick with Howard against Swiss side Young Boys at Goodison Park on Thursday, when Everton will expect to win the Europa League round of 32 tie, as they hold a 4-1 lead from the first leg.
The manager said: "Tim has come back from injury and needs to play. He needs to get his match fitness. It's not an issue whatsoever. Tim is a very experienced footballer, and on European nights, you need some experience.
"Joel Robles has shown that he's ready to help the team when he's needed, and that's a really nice competition to have in the squad."
Howard's inconsistency this season has led to speculation about his future, although Martinez made clear on Feb. 5 that the keeper, who is under contract until 2018, remains his long-term first choice.
Reports that Howard could move back to Major League Soccer at the end of the Premier League season have also been played down by both manager and player. Everton lie 12th in the Premier League after Sunday's draw, and their only realistic hope of qualifying for Europe next season is to win the Europa League -- which would bring a place in the Champions League.
Midfielder Gareth Barry said: "Realistically, the best hope we've got is to go on and win this competition. That was always the target from the outset.
"It would be fantastic to win it and to get into the Champions League. It's a massive target for us, but at the same time, we still want to go back to the league and finish really strongly. We have to try to finish as well as we possibly can in both.
"I think we've already shown that we're more than capable of going all the way. We've proved we can compete with the best in Europe and win games.
"Even with the top English teams, we know that on our day, we can beat anybody. So there's no reason why we can't go all the way in the competition."