Howard looks ready for Slovenia
The message to his American teammates was clear.
“That just gives us confidence as his partners to expect him out there,” defender Jay DeMerit said Tuesday.
Howard needed an injection of a painkiller to play the second half of Saturday’s World Cup-opening 1-1 tie against England following a collision in which Emile Heskey’s boot landed in the goalkeeper’s midsection.
For the first two days after the match, it wasn’t clear whether he had broken ribs. But the U.S. Soccer Federation said late Monday that Howard is expected to be available against Slovenia on Friday.
Howard appeared to be moving freely during the part of training that was open to reporters Tuesday. He was bundled up in a navy ski cap, sweat pants, a windbreaker and goalkeepers’ gloves. Players joked earlier about the Band-Aid.
“I think he’s got some stud marks that he’s probably trying to cover up,” DeMerit said.
Howard had six saves against the English, a big reason the U.S. escaped with a critical point in its quest to reach the second round for the first time since 2002.
Slovenia opened Sunday with a 1-0 victory over Algeria. The U.S., usually a World Cup underdog, likely will be a favorite in this matchup.