New signing Andy Lonergan admits he was impressed by Marcus Bettinelli’s assured performances in the Fulham goal last season but says he will be pushing the young goalkeeper all the way in the battle for a first-team place.
Bettinelli firmly established himself as the Fulham number one after displacing both Jesse Joronen and Gabor Kiraly once Kit Symons took over from Felix Magath and was rewarded for his fine form with a place in the England under-21 squad at this summer’s European Championships in the Czech Republic. Lonergan, who signed on a free transfer from Bolton Wanderers last month, brings plenty of Championship experience and is ready to keep the Fulham academy graduate on his toes and stake his own claim for first-team football.
He told Fulham’s official website that he has settled in nicely at Motspur Park:
It’s been brilliant. We’ve got a great bunch of lads, absolutely different class and the training has been good – it’s been tough, but not to point where you’re crawling off the pitch. The goalkeeping coach has been fantastic, it’s been a great start.
The goalkeepers here are brilliant. There’s been me, Marcus, Jesse and young Marek training and they all seem really good guys, all pretty young, but they all seem experienced keepers. Good guys to get on with.
Marcus is probably in possession of the jersey because from what I saw of him last season, he was outstanding and when we played at Craven Cottage, it was one of his first games, I was impressed with the things he had to do, he done really well and looked really composed. These last few days have just reiterated what I thought of him – he’s a top keeper, he’s a good guy as well, so hopefully I can put pressure on him because everyone wants to play but he’s probably in possession at the minute, but I’m here to try and get it for myself.
Getting injured last season was frustrating. It wasn’t so much an injury as I got knocked out a bit, concussion, and the regulations with that are pretty strict at the moment. I didn’t get back in the team after that and I probably had two or three weeks where I wasn’t feeling great anyway so I wouldn’t have played. It was frustrating but all in all, I think I had a good season and played the majority of the season.
The move to Fulham got sorted out so quickly. I spoke to a few clubs and I turned a few offers down and I actually turned down a club and, in the same conversation my agent said, ‘Do you want to go to Fulham, and I said ‘yeah,’ twelve hours later he rang me back, saying it’s sorted. It was a nice little phone call to have on holiday. I’ve always thought I’d love to come down here, it’s a great club and it’s just a fantastic opportunity.