Aston Villa keeper Brad Guzan sounds warning to Everton's Tim Howard

Brad Guzan has his sights set on cementing his status as the USA's number one before Tim Howard returns from his international sabbatical.

In an interview with ESPN FC, Aston Villa goalkeeper Brad Guzan has warned Everton counterpart Tim Howard that he won’t be claiming his starting job with the US national team back without a fight.

Guzan, 30, has been one of the leading shot-stoppers in the Premier League since earning the number one role at Villa in August 2012, but Howard’s sustained presence in the US net has limited him to just 28 caps since his 2006 debut.

However, with the Toffees keeper taking a break from the international game until September following his starring World Cup role, his then-backup has his sights set on holding onto the position for good.

“What Tim did at the World Cup last summer was just fantastic,” he said. The whole nation got behind him and appreciated that he was putting in some incredible performances, but I feel ready to step into that role now.

“You have to be professional when you are the backup keeper because if you are not giving everything in the time when you are not in the team, you will not be ready to take your chance when it comes.

“Hopefully, I have worked hard enough over the years to prove I am worthy of a pick now.”

With Howard set to turn 39 before the 2018 World Cup, combined with the criticism he’s received for his Everton performances in recent months, the tide does indeed appear to be turning in Guzan’s favour.

However, the claret and blue favourite’s path could have taken a somewhat different turn as a teenager, having attempted to start out his career in defence.

“I was always one of the tallest players in the youth teams I played in, and I guess I was good at heading the ball out and crashing into a few tackles in my role as a defender,” he said.

“I practiced as a keeper and a defender growing up, but I realised I was not good enough to play outfield when I was around 17 and focused on the keeping role. It worked out quite well, I guess!”

With the US competing at the CONCACAF Gold Cup this summer, Guzan will have a prime chance to establish his place in head coach Jurgen Klinsmann’s starting XI before Howard’s scheduled return.

The former Chivas USA star still faces immediate competition from MLS-based understudies Nick Rimando and Bill Hamid, but both face a tough task unseating him from the position over the coming months.

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