Etheridge endures shaky pre-season at Fulham FC
LONDON – The English Premier League's (EPL) transfer window shut at 11 p.m. (GMT) yesterday following a flurry of last minute activity among its clubs.
Rumors surrounded the possible loaning out of Fulham FC's number two goalkeeper David Stockdale, which would have made way for the Philippine Azkal's Neil Etheridge to fill the void.
But the move failed to materialize and both back-up keepers remain at the club, competing for the number one slot currently held by Australian Mark Schwarzer.
In a telephone interview with ABS-CBN Europe, the Philippines' first choice stopper reveals pre-season was an uncertain time for him.
"Pre-season has been confusing for me, not really knowing. With Stockdale not going out on loan, at the moment I'm still sitting as number 3, but I have to look at the bigger picture, I'm still young," Etheridge said.
"It's frustrating because I'd like to be on the bench, or I'd like to go out on loan and play football," he added.
The British Pinoy spent part of last season as Fulham's number two goalkeeper when Stockdale went on loan to Championship side Ipswich Town.
During the England international's absence, Etheridge made his senior debut in a Europa League clash last December against Danish side Odense.
The 22-year-old feels he learned a lot last season, but knows he needs to knuckle down once again for this campaign, especially since he is entering the final year of his contract at Craven Cottage.
Etheridge remains confident in his abilities and is not giving in without a fight. He is reaching for Schwarzer's spot.
"I wouldn't say I'm 3rd choice because Stockdale hasn't gone on loan. I wouldn't look at it as a step backwards. I just need to keep working hard, keep looking to the future, do my best and keep bettering myself so I can one day become the number one," he said.
Fulham sold two instrumental forwards in the transfer window to fellow London club Tottenham Hotspur - Moussa Dembélé of Belgium and Clint Dempsey of the United States.
To make up for the loss in personnel, the Cottagers signed three attackers in Kieran Richardson from Sunderland, Iran's Ashkan Dejagah from German outfit Wolfsburg, and Bulgaria's Dimitar Berbatov from Manchester United.
It remains to be seen what kind of impact they will have, but Etheridge is excited by the acquisitions, particularly former United hitman Berbatov.
"Berbatov has been at some big clubs. He's the kind of player you love to play against, but to have him in your team, for Fulham football club it's a great thing," he said.