Football/Soccer

Mark Travers keen to learn off Ireland's number one Darren Randolph

Republic of Ireland's Darren Randolph is still number one, says back-up Mark Travers

NOT many back-up goalkeepers like to admit it, but Mark Travers understands why Darren Randolph is the Republic of Ireland’s undisputed number one – but feels he has plenty of time to make an impact on the club and international stage.

The Kildare native is also having to bide his time at his club Bournemouth with the more experienced Bosnia international Asmir Begovic currently number one.

Speaking via Zoom to reporters from the team's headquarters in Dublin last night, Travers says Randolph is currently the man to displace even though the West Ham United man is playing second fiddle to Lukasz Fabianski.

“Like with Caoimhin [Kelleher], we obviously want to play and get as many caps as we can,” said Travers.

“Darren Randolph has been so good and so consistent the last few years, he has never been at fault when he has been in the goal for Ireland.

“It's great to learn from him and work with such an experienced and such a good goalkeeper.

“Being 21, there is always time to work and learn from him, but obviously the goal is everyone wants to play for their country and get in the team.

“I just have to see how this team pans out but I'm quite lucky in that there are so many games coming up in the Nations League and World Cup Qualifiers as well. There’s so much to look forward to so I've just got to see how it goes.”

Travers has joked with Begovic that the pair might meet in the Euro 2021 play-off final next month – but both Ireland and Bosnia have to overcome semi-final opponents Slovakia and Northern Ireland respectively before debating an appearance at a major tournament.

Travers, who has represented his country right through from U15, made his senior international debut in a friendly win over Bulgaria in September 2019.

With the vast majority of top clubs playing out from the back, a goalkeeper has had to add significantly to their skills set – but Travers is unfazed by the modern challenges of keeping goal.

“You take the added pressure in those situations but a lot of teams are trying to play from the back; we use our feet as well, we join in the rondos in training, constantly trying to use our feet.

“It comes with games and trying to get confident with it. A goalkeeper can't be too cheeky at times, you do have to go long, you don't want to cause goals in that respect, [but] the first thought is to play out, you use your centre halves and full backs to build attacks.”

New boss Stephen Kenny is also a big believer in trying to make that first pass from the goalkeeper be the basis for the team’s attack – and Travers feels Ireland have the quality to play the modern way.

“I don't see why not, if you are 1-0 up with 10 minutes to go on Thursday, it's a different story but throughout the game it's something we want to do, start from the back and play out, if it's on,” said Travers, who moved to Bournemouth after a short spell with Shamrock Rovers in 2017.

“In the past it's been different, but we have a great group of players here who are willing to do that so I don't see why we can't do that with the Irish team.

“We definitely have the players in the Irish squad to do that, it's a matter of time before we all gel together and get used to the new system but I think it's a massive positive, it's an exciting time and everyone is looking forward to the game on Thursday.”

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Football/Soccer