The USA goalkeeper insists Mirallas, 25, will thrive because his lack of derby familiarity means he will feel less pressure ahead of the crunch show-down. And Howard is confident the £5.5m summer signing will not be bowed by the combative tempo of Sunday’s Goodison clash. He said:
“It’ll be a big one for him. Sometimes your best opportunity in a derby is when you’re a foreigner and you don’t really know the pressure and the rivalry. It lets you play a little loose so we’ll see.
“He’s a flair player. He’s confident and he likes to get on the ball and it’ll be a good taste for him. He’s going to have to fill a void for us and we’re confident he can do it well
“Steven is a big miss. We have some key players and we can’t have them missing too often but in the end we’re going to have to deal with it. Guys are going to have step up and other people like Kevin will get opportunities.
“The derby will be the usual rough and tumble. They play a good brand of football, we’ve been playing some really classy stuff so in the end it should be a good game.”
Howard admitted he is still hopeful that both Marouane Fellaini and Darron Gibson will recover from injuries in time to feature in the 219th Merseyside derby.