Battle of keepers takes another twist – but position is overstocked at Derby County
FRANK Fielding returned to the Derby County team at the weekend for his first appearance in more than five months.
Which between Fielding and Adam Legzdins should be number one has been a matter for debate in recent weeks.
Fielding started the season as first choice and played 10 games before he suffered a groin injury in the draw at Middlesbrough on October 3.
Legzdins came in and his performances earned him a deserved run of 30 consecutive games but slips by him in recent weeks opened the door for Fielding again.
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And so the battle for one place continues, as you would expect.
The fact of the matter is that Derby have two number one goalkeepers.
Both have proved themselves capable of holding down a first-team place,
Both deserve regular first-team football and at 24, in Fielding’s case, and 26, Legzdins’ age, they need to be playing regular football in order to continue their development and improvement.
The battle for the gloves is interesting but of more interest is what the summer might hold for the two of them.
Can Derby keep both?
That might not be possible, given that both want – and probably expect to play – and also given the club’s wage budget.
Derby have five keepers on professional terms – Fielding, Legzdins, Saul Deeney, Ross Atkins and young Mats Morch.
In a squad the size of Derby’s, five is too many.
All players have to be patient at times, none more so than keepers.
With only one place in the 11 up for grabs their situation can change dramatically.
Fielding missed only two of 46 League matches last season and he was being touted as one of the top six English keepers.
Twice he has been called up to the full England squad and he was sounded out about representing Great Britain at last summer’s Olympic Games.
Legzdins had to wait for his opportunity following a move from Burton Albion, where he had been a regular starter.
He did not kick up a fuss. He got his head down, worked hard and made sure he was ready when called on.
Fielding’s injury gave Legzdins his opportunity and he took it.
Now the battle of the keepers has taken another twist.