Neil's Loan Joy

Wednesday 10 October 2012 10:44

It is common knowledge that Fulham Football Club is blessed with an array of talented goalkeepers.

22-year-old Neil Etheridge currently finds himself below the established duo of Mark Schwarzer and David Stockdale in the pecking order, and so the Philippines international has been given the chance of first team football at Bristol Rovers.

Neil had just 90 minutes of competitive action under his belt prior to his one-month loan deal at the Memorial Stadium – in the UEFA Europa League with Fulham last year - and the ‘keeper is enjoying his current run of games in the npower League Two.

“You play football to play week-in, week-out,” he told fulhamfc.com. “Not all the time is that going to happen for you but I’m loving my time at the moment playing twice a week – you can’t beat the feeling of stepping out onto that pitch on a Saturday afternoon.

“Since I joined, we’ve had a draw, two wins and a loss, so I’m pretty happy with that. In all honesty I’m not sure how many points they had before I came but we can’t be far off doubling it now.”

Etheridge does himself a disservice there. Rovers had just three points on the board from six games when he arrived – they now have 10 from 10.

“I’ve been really impressed with how we’ve been playing,” Neil said. “They’re a good bunch of lads and we’ve had a few new additions to the team as well so we need to make sure we keep the ball rolling. 

“We had a bit of an upset last week when we lost 1-0 [at home to Cheltenham Town] but we bounced back at the weekend so we’re looking forward to the next match where we’ll be expecting to get at least a point [away to Burton Albion].”

Etheridge has been an instant hit with Pirates’ fans after a string of impressive displays, and the young stopper confesses he is pleased with the form he’s showing as he tastes league football for the first time.

“I had a clean sheet on my debut, we won the second game 2-1 and I haven’t been at fault for any of the goals,” he said. “We’ve got seven points since I signed and in my third game in league football I put in a Man of the Match performance so I think I’ve impressed.

“I know the fans there and the manager and the staff have warmed to me quite nicely so that’s helped me to settle in. I’m obviously still a Fulham player but it’s nice to be playing league football.”

Now two-thirds of the way through his loan stint in Bristol, Etheridge admits that he would be happy to extend his deal at Rovers, but is not looking too far ahead.

“I’ve got two more games – this weekend and the weekend after and then that’s the end of my loan,” he explained.

“At the moment I’m just looking from game to game. As long as I’m at Bristol Rovers then I’ll do all I can for them. If they want to extend the loan then that’s their decision. I just get on the pitch and do my job and if they want to extend it then they’ll extend it.”