The season past may not have given many reasons for optimism for Fulham fans but amidst the gloom, if we look closely, there are in fact some rays of sunshine. I hope to write a couple of pieces over the off-seasons months to shed some light on these so if you are struggling to look forward to the season ahead then keep your eye on hammyend.com over the next few months.
Today’s piece will focus on our young goalkeepers. It looks like Kit Symons will be staying for at least the start of next season and in a recent interview on the clubs website he stressed that he will aim to bring a solid back line to the team. He acknowledged that good teams must be strong from the back so having the right man between the sticks is vital for Fulham to move forward. Marcus Bettinelli has had a very difficult breakthrough season for Fulham but his performances brought him very close to the Player of the Season award, losing out only to Ross McCormack. The young keeper seems to have everything to suggest that he has a very bright future and has been rewarded with a couple of England call-ups already. Currently he is with the U21’s as they prepare for the European Championships in a couple of weeks’ time. He made his debut in a friendly earlier on in the year and impressed with a clean sheet. Jack Butland is captaining the Young Lions in the summer so I’m not sure how much pitch time Marcus will get but we all know that anything can happen with the likes of injuries. However regardless of pitch time, tournament football with the national team will be a fantastic experience for him, experience that he can bring back to Fulham. If Bettinelli can continue to improve then he could be a real source of leadership for the club in the coming years. Already we are hearing rumours of the likes of Chelsea sniffing around but I reckon it is just speculation for now at least!
Another Fulham youngster currently with England is Magnus Norman, who got an unexpected call-up to the U18’s for their double header against Russia after injury forced Sam Howes out of the squad. Norman has already represented the U18’s this year but this will give him another chance to really show what he is capable of. Similarly to Bettinelli, time away with the national team will be an excellent experience for the young keeper to improve his game.
If we cast our minds back to the very beginning of Fulham’s season we will remember Jesse Joronen who started the season as our first choice goalkeeper. He faced a real baptism of fire to life in the Championship and unfortunately suffered four defeats in four matches before being dropped. He then suffered a serious injury after going out on loan to Accrington Stanley. It hasn’t been a season to remember for him but his talent cannot be questioned especially as he is still in the international picture with Finland at a training camp despite his difficult season. He has been on the international scene for quite a while so we are sure to see more from him once he is back on form after injury. We just have to hope that the Felix Magath reign hasn’t made too much of a negative impact on him.
Marek Rodak is also playing for Slovakia U21’s in a friendly in the coming weeks. He has been on the international scene a while so I reckon we will start to see him in the Fulham team squad soon enough.
It is very exciting when the club’s investment in the youth system starts to give positive results and with Kit Symons wanting to build from the back it is encouraging to see a number of talented players in the goalkeeping department. I reckon these guys can really help Fulham be solid at the back for the foreseeable future!
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