Howard hails 'alpha-males'

Everton keeper admits there will be semi-final disappointment

Tim Howard: Everton goalkeeper admits there will be FA Cup disappointment for one of the centre-halves

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Tim Howard admits one of Everton's 'alpha-male' centre-halves will endure the disappointment of being left out of starting line-up for the FA Cup semi-final against Liverpool.

The Toffees must choose a pairing from Phil Jagielka, Sylvain Distin and John Heitinga, with David Moyes having used all three combinations at various points of the season.

Everton keeper Howard is pleased the club have such strong options at the back and acknowledged the difficulty in selecting which two will line up at Wembley.

"Phil, Sylvain Distin and John: they are the alpha males in the team," said the American.

"Phil, Sylvain Distin and John: they are the alpha males in the team. In a back four your centre-halves are usually your dominant presence and they are all top-class players - and I don't say that lightly."

Tim Howard

Quotes of the week

"In a back four your centre-halves are usually your dominant presence and they are all top-class players - and I don't say that lightly.

"One of them is going to be disappointed and we are going to be disappointed for the one who misses out, but we do feel like each of them may have a part to play.

"It's tough to say how that will work out over 90 or 120 minutes but there is no telling."

Reina blow

Liverpool go into the game with third-choice Brad Jones, who made his first appearance in 16 months on Tuesday, in goal because of suspension to Jose Reina and Alexander Doni.

The absence of Spain international Reina, who had played 183 successive Premier League matches before his ban, is a chink in the Reds' armour according to Howard.

"I think it is a blow because he is one the backbones of that club," said the 33-year-old.

"As talented as he is they will also miss his presence because he is a strong character and I know what it is like to be missing big players.

"You are so used to walking down the tunnel seeing certain guys you are going into battle with, it's like your armour, and when they are missing you feel you are missing a piece of that armour.

"You always miss a big presence in the team."