Azkals' Etheridge rejoins League 1's Crewe on loan
LONDON -- Philippine Azkal goalkeeper Neil Etheridge has rejoined League One side Crewe Alexandra FC on loan from English Premier League outfit Fulham FC.
The 24-year-old, whose spell at the Alexandra Stadium last November was cut short due to a thigh injury, will be with the Railwaymen until April 13.
ABS-CBN Europe caught up with the British-Pinoy before his first game back against Stevenage Town, which Crewe lost 1-0.
"I'm glad to be back out on loan," Etheridge said. "I had three games with them at the back end of last year but then I got injured and I was disappointed. Massive thanks to their manager [Steve Davis] for holding on and taking me back. It's great."
During his previous stint, the London-born shot-stopper conceded just four goals and helped bolster a defense that had leaked 36 goals in its last 16 games.
"I must have done something right in the first three games and I know I played quite well, but I know when I got injured that my job wasn't done there. I wanted to go back and I wanted to prove myself in that league again," he said.
Etheridge is also eager to reverse the fortunes of Crewe, who have conceded the most number of goals in the division at 62, and currently sit in 20th place with 34 points after 33 games -- just two points above the drop zone.
"I want to help the club out of the very unfortunate situation they're in, towards the bottom of the league. For the time that I'm going to be there I'll give 110% to make sure that by the time I leave they won't be anywhere near that relegation battle," he said.
Having previously been loaned to Charlton and Bristol City, Etheridge views this as another chance to gain more experience and playing time.
"I'm happy, very happy. It's a move that needs to happen for me, personally. It's a great opportunity for me to put myself in the shop window or to force myself into situations where I'm used more in the first team. I know I need the experience to be able to do that," he said.
"I've got two great goalkeepers [Maarten Stekelenburg and David Stockdale] ahead of me at Fulham with a lot more experience and I know the only way for me to gain experience is going on loan. I'm delighted that I'm able to go out and play some games."
Etheridge will be flying to the United Arab Emirates next week to join up with the Philippine national team in Dubai, who will be facing Azerbaijan in a friendly match on March 5.