Net gains for super Saints

Clarke impressed with stand-in Jennings

St Patrick’s Athletic goalkeeper Pat Jennings Jnr, pictured here (c) with Rene Gilmartin (l) and Brendan Clarke

Aidan Fitzmaurice

Brendan Clarke hopes to be back fit and back in the St Patrick's Athletic side in time for their weekend league battle - but he admits that in the veteran understudy Pat Jennings he has a more than capable deputy.

Conor O'Malley is recognised as the Saints' back-up keeper behind No. 1 Clarke, but as Mayo man O'Malley has been sidelined by an ankle injury, Pats boss Liam Buckley has had to turn to No. 3 Jennings, the Saints' goalkeeping coach, to fill in for Clarke when he picked up an injury during Monday's League Cup date with Dundalk.

Jennings, 36, played his part as the Saints won 1-0 in extra-time and while the former Northern Ireland U21 cap, a son of the ex-Arsenal keeper of the same name, should revert to his back-up role for Saturday's Premier Division game away to Bray Wanderers, Clarke was impressed with his efforts.

"I have a battle on my hands to play ahead of PJ every week, whether I am fit or not," says Clarke.

"He did well on Monday and made a few saves but that's what he's like. He is probably one of the fittest and strongest players at the club due to his day job as a personal trainer. So it was no skin off his nose to come in and play, he's the most relaxed person I know."

Jennings has been in the league since he joined UCD in 2000, lining out for Derry City, Sligo Rovers, Shamrock Rovers and Athlone Town but has yet to play a league game since he joined the Saints in 2013.

"His main job is being our goalkeeping coach but he's young enough and fit enough to step in when needed, he's been like that since the day he came to the club," added Clarke, keen to return soon.

"The injury on Monday wasn't too serious. My shin basically collided with Robbie Benson's shin, I had a bit of pain in the knee and it got worse as the game went on, there was no point in risking it, especially as we have some big league matches on the way, so I came off," added Clarke.

"But I should be okay to train on Friday and play on Saturday. We have Bray away, a big game for us and we're tipping away nicely in the league, we're going about our business quietly as no one outside of the club is talking about us, we'll keep it that way, keep winning games and see where it takes us."