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Stoke City (A) Wed 4 Mar 2015, 19:45, Barclays Premier League

by Adam Clark @efc_adamclark

Everton goalkeeping legend Neville Southall believes current Blues stopper Tim Howard is playing better than ever.

American Howard kept 15 Premier League clean sheets last term, signed a two-year contract extension in April and recently surpassed the 100-cap mark for the USA in a friendly against Nigeria.

The 35-year-old will add to that haul when he steps out to begin his third World Cup campaign against Ghana on Monday.

And Southall, who made 751 appearances during a glittering Goodison Park career, believes the best from the former Manchester United star could yet be to come.  

“Tim has done brilliantly," said the Welshman, who played his last game for Everton aged 39. "He’s been a top-class goalkeeper for a number of years now.

“You don’t get to 100 caps if you’re an idiot – it’s a nice achievement for Tim and I’m chuffed for him to get such recognition.

“He’s got a really strong mentality and last season he appeared more relaxed than he’s ever been. His body language was totally different to what it had been in the past and he now seems a lot happier.

“Back when I was playing, depending who we were up against, you could be really busy as a goalkeeper or doing nothing – there was no in between.

“The way football is now, Tim is at his peak. It’s different to when I was playing - the physicality of the challenges have largely gone.

“He could well go on to keep playing at the top level when he’s 40, and he’s now at an age when he’s as strong as he’s going to be both physically and mentally.”

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