Posted: Thursday March 8, 2012 12:49PM ; Updated: Thursday March 8, 2012 5:02PM

U.S. GK Howard signs new long-term Everton deal

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LIVERPOOL, England (AP) -- U.S. goalkeeper Tim Howard has extended his contract at Everton, tying him to the Premier League club until 2016.

The 33-year-old Howard has played 256 games for Everton since joining from Manchester United in 2006, initially on loan before signing a permanent deal in February 2007.

"It's a place that is home for me,'' Howard said in an Everton statement.

Howard's consistent performances for the northwest club have helped him keep the goalkeeper jersey for the U.S. national team. He played last week in the historic 1-0 win in Italy. He has played 72 times for the U.S.

Howard this season scored his first professional goal - a length-of-the-field effort in a 2-1 home loss to Bolton in January.

"When you have a really good relationship in life and both sides are eager to continue and keep that going, it's a no-brainer,'' Howard said of his new contract. "This hasn't been a knockdown, drawn-out type of negotiation with meetings or anything like that. They were very happy to keep me here and I was very, very happy to stay.''

Whether he stays on playing into his 40s is another matter.

Fellow American goalkeeper Brad Friedel is still impressive at 40 with Tottenham in the Premier League, while 39-year-old Australia goalkeeper Mark Schwarzer recently signed a contract with Fulham until the summer of 2013 - when he will be approaching 41.

"When (the new contract) is finished, I will take stock and figure out what I want to do,'' Howard said. "At 33, I find it difficult to figure out how the 40-year-old goalkeepers get out of bed in the morning.

"As long as I am healthy and still have the desire to compete, I have to consider continuing to play. But as you get to 38, 39, 40, those things start to diminish, especially physically.''

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