Goalkeeper Will Puddy is enjoying an extended run in the side now that he’s returned after injuring an elbow in a Gloucestershire Senior Challenge cup tie against Cinderford Town last November.
“I’m delighted to be getting a run of games at last. It’s always nice when you are playing because you are always working hard to get the shirt and it is really nice to be playing again.”
That run of games would be more had he not sustained an injury, because first choice keeper Steve Mildenhall picked up a knee injury at Wrexham at the beginning of December, some seven games ago.
As a result Rovers had to use the emergency loan system to bring in Notts County’s Fabian Spiess, who appeared in four games before returning to Meadow Lane.
“Fabian is a good goalkeeper and I do feel a little bit for him as he was thrown in at the deep end. He was fantastic when he came in, and was a great trainer. He will learn from the experience of playing here just as I did when I went out on loan, several times when I was younger, because playing games is the only way you learn.”
With ‘Mildy’ close to a return to fitness, he’s aware that he faces a fight to keep hold of the number one spot.
“We are great mates and that’s the way you want it to be. Neither of us wants things to be easy and it’s good for the club if we are both competing for the shirt.”
It has to be said that in the three games he’s played since his return to the side, he hasn’t exactly been overworked.
“That’s credit to the boys in front of me. We work very hard, on the training pitch, in terms of organisation. For example, I work closely with the back line in training and we work hard and are disciplined in all aspects of the game that affect us.”
Having just played five games over the Christmas/New Year period, he admits that it’s taken its toll.
“It has been hard work, especially when you work as hard as our players have in those games. With no game this Saturday, it will be good to have a slower paced week on the training ground as we prepare for the run in.”
Just as strikers enjoy scoring, then goalkeepers enjoy keeping clean sheets, though he’s keen to stress that they are the result of everyone working hard.
“It’s not just keepers or the back four responsible for clean sheets, it’s a team effort. You have to press high and be organised throughout the team in order to prevent your opponents from scoring and keeping a clean sheet is a big thing for the whole team.”
Although his first team opportunities have been limited, he doesn’t regret joining the club at all.
“I came here to do a job and be part of a squad that wants to be successful and I’m thoroughly enjoying my time here.
“To be honest, I wouldn’t want to be anywhere else because this is a team that’s going places. The staff are great and I’m working with two fantastic, and knowledgeable, keepers in Steve Mildenhall and Stuart
Naylor and learning a lot more than I ever imagined I would this season.”