First piece written for WalesOnline – bit of a biggy for me – find original article here
Cardiff City have been treated to goalkeeping royalty over the past six seasons, with David Marshall moulding himself into one of the best shot-stoppers in English football.
However, City’s financial restrictions meant they had to sanction his sale to Hull over the summer, and with the departure of reserve Simon Moore to Sheffield United weeks before, the Bluebirds found themselves scrambling for emergency replacements.
Paul Trollope, ex-City boss, brought in Ben Amos on loan from Bolton and the experienced Brian Murphy.
Neil Warnock has been suitably unimpressed by Amos’ performances, eventually dropping him for Murphy, who has cut a composed and confident figure between City’s sticks in his recent outings. Despite this, Cardiff still need to find a fitting replacement for the gigantic sized-hole left by Marshall.
Here are three options Warnock should be considering.
McCarthy finds himself as a second-string keeper at high-flying Southampton, playing understudy to the formidable Fraser Forster.
He will be looking to become a first choice as the 27 year-old’s career begins to stagnate and a move away could be on the cards.
McCarthy would come with a wealth of experience in the Football League having plied his trade at Reading, Leeds and Ipswich prior to his move to the top tier. With a fundamental knowledge of how this division works, McCarthy would seamlessly fit into City’s set-up.
The 6ft 4in keeper is a commanding presence and is confident with crosses, giving his defence an assured belief in his abilities – a trust that Cardiff defenders have seldom had with the likes of Ben Wilson and Amos.
Coupled with his domineering presence, McCarthy is an excellent shot-stopper, which would give room to a Bluebirds’ defence that often leaks shooting opportunities.
Southampton signed the ex-England U’21 for a reported fee of £3.5 million in the summer, and would thus be unlikely to sell. If Cardiff are to gain McCarthy it will be through the loan system; with McCarthy eager for game-time and with Puel unlikely to drop Forster, Warnock’s chances of courting McCarthy might be promising.
McGovern excelled during last summer’s European Championships, making a string of incredible saves to keep the score to just 1-0 when Northern Ireland lost to World Champions Germany.
His performance was hailed as the reason Michael O’Neil’s team reached the knockout stage. It is with some regret that Cardiff were unable to poach him whilst he was a free agent, following the tournament’s end.
Deciding on Norwich City, McGovern began this season as first choice, but he lost his spot before Christmas. John Ruddy seized upon the opportunity presented to him by McGovern’s injury and has refused to relinquish his position. If he is to continue to warm the bench at Carrow Road, McGovern could be another keen for a loan move.
McGovern had a 98% successful claim rate on catches prior to removal from the starting eleven, demonstrating his assertive areal abilities.
His displays at the Euros illustrated his enviable reactions, but what separates him from previous candidate McCarthy is his strong kicking game. McGovern has the ability to initiate attacks from his own box and the capability to instantly relieve pressure will be greatly welcomed by a City side who look to absorb opposition attacks.
The 32-year-old is not the quickest off his line but with Cardiff’s defence tending to sit deep to minimise balls over the top, this may not be a major issue.
McGovern’s experience in dealing with constant bombardment, mainly through his 18 caps for Northern Ireland, married with his astute catching make him an ideal signing for Warnock.
Scottish keeper Bain would is perhaps an unfamiliar face to many fans.
He is reaching the last year of his contract at Dundee United and is thus available for a reduced fee.
Regarded in Scotland as the natural heir to Craig Gordon and David Marshall in the national team, Bain has consistently impressed and earned several call ups.
Bain’s potential can be seen in his lighting quick reflexes, earning him praise from Scotland boss Gordon Strachan who has earmarked him as one for the future.
The 25-year-old is not as confident in collecting crosses as McCarthy and McGovern, but neither was Marshall at such an age. Bain’s composed shot-stopping skills must be balanced against his tendency for rashness in dealing with crosses but that will come with time.
Given his contract situation, the young keeper would be available for around £500k and if the Bluebirds are serious about bringing in a keeper for the longevity of the club, they need look no further than Bain.