Fulham goalkeeper David Stockdale is keen to take his chance in the spotlight and prove that he can play consistently at the highest level.
Stockdale has been handed a starting place after the injury to Maarten Stekelenburg against Sunderland in the first game of the Barclays Premier League season and has made the most saves in the division to date (14). However, the stopper wants to make the most of his time as first choice and hopes he can continue to provide tough competition for Stekelenburg when the Dutchman returns.
“This is my sixth year here and I was behind a very good goalkeeper for five years in Mark Schwarzer and now the Club has brought in another very good ‘keeper,” he said. “The Club has kept me here for a reason and hopefully it’s because I work hard and I want to be the best that I can be.
“I keep my head down and hopefully I can fight for the number one spot. I’m just trying to use these games as a point proving exercise; I must show people that I can perform at a consistent level and that I am capable of doing it week in, week out.”
With Stekelenburg’s arrival this summer, and Philippines international Neil Etheridge also fighting for a place in the side, the Club has a wealth of goalkeeping options, but that does not faze Stockdale.
“Whenever Maarten comes back, hopefully it’s a speedy recovery because he’s a good guy and it was an unfortunate incident when he was having a good game,” he said. “I welcome the competition and if I keep the jersey, I need to work harder than him to keep it.
“Maarten, Neil and I get on really well with each other. We have games, two touch, and unfortunately they can’t beat me in that! If one goalkeeper is doing well, a bit of credit has to go to the other goalkeepers for the competition. We have a healthy goalkeeping position at this Club and we’re quite lucky - going down quite far, I’m thinking Jesse [Joronen], he plays for Finland Under-21s and he’s fifth choice at the Club so we’ve got some good goalkeepers here.”
With a number of successful loan spells behind him, Stockdale admits the best experience has been learning from a goalkeeper like Schwarzer before he moved to Chelsea this summer.
“You try to mould yourself on goalkeepers like him because he’s in fantastic shape for a 40-year-old and you kind of forget when you see him play that he’s been unbelievable for Fulham for five seasons,” he added. “All credit to him, he wanted to move on to a new challenge and I wish him all the best and thank him for everything I’ve learned from him which can hopefully keep me going until I’m his age.
“I’ve played in every league in England now; I always try to tell the younger players to work hard because you never know what’s around the corner. I’m thankful that I can come into training every day with a smile on my face. It’s a great place to come in and train, the people around here are excellent and we are very lucky to be in the position that we are.”