While watching a jubilant Chelsea celebrate their Europa League triumph over Benfica last Wednesday night I couldn’t help but notice a player who has been incognito for quite some time.
Henrique Hilário has been at the King’s Road club for nearly a decade, but has so far only amassed 35 first-team appearances, many will recall his performances as a stand-in for Petr Cech after his collision with Stephan Hunt in 2006, but after that he seemed to vanish into thin air, still managing to collect Premier League, FA Cup, Europa League and Champions League winners medals with little effort or participation even though he is nearing the end of his career one must question his motives for prolonging his stay with the London side.
Most match day squads are likely to include Englishman Ross Turnbull, which sees him receive little or no game time along with frequently training with under-21 and reserve sides must completely drain any player’s confidence away even a seasoned professional like Hilario. Keepers who choose to warm the bench purely for financial gains are surely a waste of talent.
Neil Etheridge has earned 39 caps for the Philippines without playing a single Premier League match for Fulham, Kieran Westwood has stayed had Sunderland as an understudy for several years, this has proved detrimental to his international career as he has lost out on the Republic of Ireland number one spot to Millwall’s David Forde, and fellow Irishman Stephan Henderson continues to let his career stagnate at West Ham as third choice behind Jussi Jaaskelainen and Raplel Spiegel.
The position of goalkeeper is polarising and isolating enough without the added struggle for first team football and I think managers in today’s game should be braver when it comes to goalkeeping decisions, rotating more frequently, initiating competition between keepers, keeping the number one looking over his shoulder make him fight for his place and allow younger keepers to have exposure to the first team, keep them on their toes and make them work for their pay packet he collects at the end of the week.
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