Wednesday 17 January 2018

Stockdale puts it up to Hughes

david stockdale, an emerging 24-year-old goalkeeper with one previous Premier League appearance behind him before the start of the new season, may yet fall victim to the goalkeeper merry-go-round that appears likely to unfurl in the remaining weeks of the summer transfer window.

But, in the short-term, Mark Hughes and Fulham should feel relief that the Yorkshireman remains at their beck and call as the new manager tries to negotiate his way through the delicate situation regarding Mark Schwarzer.

The Australian was left out of the draw at the Reebok Stadium after failing a pre-match fitness test, a fate that also befell defender Paul Konchesky, currently being heavily linked with a possible move to Liverpool. Hughes insisted there was no ulterior motive behind either absence but the fact remains that Schwarzer is still expected to be an Arsenal player before the end of the month.

Logic, not to mention necessity, dictates that Hughes will sign a senior replacement for Schwarzer should that happen and he need look no further than his former club, Manchester City, and the displaced and unhappy Shay Given, for one potential successor, even if only on a loan basis.

But, in the meantime, and with Manchester United the next team on Fulham's schedule, Stockdale has demonstrated that he is a viable short-term alternative.

"I feel excited to have played, done well and hopefully given the manager a dilemma," said Stockdale after a pair of second-half saves from Johan Elmander assured his team of a point.

"I've only made two starts but that hasn't bothered me so much. I just tend to think about how I'm progressing in training.

"If Mark goes, I fully expect Fulham to bring another goalkeeper in and that would be the right thing to do. I just hope today I've shown the gaffer that I am capable of doing a job for him and given him something to think about.

"I've been with Mark for two years, I signed here at the same time as him and he's improved my game no end. I'd rather he stayed really, but you hear the rumours about the clubs that are interested and it's not the sort of thing that comes along very often in your career.

"So, from that point of view, you can understand why he'd want to leave. I'd love to get a run in the team and show people what I can do. It's taken two years to get to this point and I would fancy United if I'm picked, though if Mark is back and fit I'm sure he'd start."


Despite being denied by the goalkeeper, Elmander continued his rehabilitation under Owen Coyle. The Swedish international, signed two years ago at a cost of £10m, has scored just eight goals in 56 league games for Bolton but his improved form and fitness in the closing weeks of last season, and at the start of this, suggest that record will soon be improved.

"I have said to him it is a fresh start. I have belief in him and he looked a top, top player today," said Coyle. "I certainly hope he looks fitter. I was worried because he had been away on international duty how he would come back. But I saw in training that he was fresh and ready to go.

"If I see him put that level of performance in after an international break, it augurs well for the rest of the season. It is for Johan to show that on a consistent basis. We all believe he has the ability to do that and I can help him, but he is the one who has got to deliver."

Irish Independent

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