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Schwarzer’s studying pays dividends

Mark Schwarzer credited Fulham’s video analysts after claiming he knew exactly where Jonathan Walters was going to strike his penalty during the 1-0 win over Stoke City this afternoon.

The 40 year-old goalkeeper made a sharp save from Walters’ spot-kick, diving to his left to preserve Fulham’s advantage, after referee Lee Probert had penalised Ashkan Dejagah for handball in the second half of the lunchtime kick-off. It was the Australian’s second penalty save of the season after his injury-time stop from Mikel Arteta in November ensured Fulham came away with a point from the Emirates.

We looked at video footage before the game so I was confident I knew where he was going to go. I was lucky enough to get behind it.

Schwarzer was also delighted to keep a second consecutive clean sheet after Fulham’s goalless draw at Norwich a fortnight ago, telling Sky Sports after the game:

We looked at video footage before the game so I was confident I knew where he was going to go. I was lucky enough to get behind it.

Schwarzer set to extend his contract

Mark Schwarzer has revealed that he has held initial talks with Fulham over extending his contract at Craven Cottage.

The Australian international has his sights set on representing his country at next year’s World Cup in Brazil but appreciates that his international ambitions – and the longevity of his playing career – are dependent on him remaining number one at club level.

I feel really good and don’t think the age thing is hindering my performances in any way. I’ve had some initial discussions and the intentions are there at the club to keep me. But in what capacity we’ll have to wait and see. I want to be playing each week – that’s the key for me. I love playing and don’t want to be No.2 anywhere.

The World Cup is also a huge priority and the reality is if I am not playing I don’t think it would be possible to be a part of the national team. I just want to be out there enjoying every minute – especially at this stage of my career. If that means I have to move on at the end of the season, then that’s fine also. Let’s just see how we go.

Schwarzer, who turned 40 last October, is now the second-oldest man in the Premier League, with only Tottenham’s second choice goalkeeper Brad Friedel behind him. The Fulham goalkeeper, who kept a clean sheet as Martin Jol’s side held Norwich at Carrow Road yesterday, is adamant that he hasn’t remotely considered hanging up his boots yet.

No, not yet. I will just keep my head down and keep training hard – the last few weeks have been particularly good on a personal level.

I am enjoying my football again and I’ll keep doing my job and see what happens at the end of the season. As long I’m fit and performing, then there’s every chance I can play on for at least another season after this one.

Jol salutes Stockdale’s spirit

Martin Jol praised Fulham goalkeeper David Stockdale for putting his slip-ups against Swansea to the back of his mind and producing a stellar display at West Bromwich Albion as the Whites recorded only their second away win of the campaign.

Stockdale’s miscued clearance allowed Jonathan De Guzman to put the Swans out of sight at Craven Cottage on Saturday but, with Mark Schwarzer still troubled by a neck injury, the 27 year-old was far more assured at the Hawthorns and produced a pair of excellent saves from Romelu Lukaku when the New Year’s Day clash was level at 1-1.

I was very happy for him. Against Swansea (on Saturday) I think we deserved the three points more than at Albion. Because of a couple of mistakes, we didn’t look very good and that was very disappointing for him and for us because we know that he’s a fantastic goalkeeper.

Against West Brom, luck was on his side and I’m very happy for David and for the team that we could get the three points because we really needed them. We had five or six draws away from home so you can’t say that we’ve done awful but the only win we had was a long time ago, at Wigan.

Schwarzer shares secrets of his success

There’s an interesting profile of Mark Schwarzer from SBS as the Fulham goalkeeper edges closer to his hundredth cap for Australia.

Fitness permitting, Schwarzer should reach the international landmark after a friendly against Scotland at Easter Road in August and the Socceroos’ latest World Cup qualifier in Jordan the following month. Should Australia make it all the way to Brazil in 2014, Schwarzer will replace legendary Italian custodian Dino Zoff as the oldest goalkeeper to play in a World Cup finals.

Reflecting on a twenty-year career, which was celebrated when he was named Australia’s best ever goalkeeper at a Sydney ceremony last week, Schwarzer suggested that nutrition and a strict fitness regime have helped him maintain his consistently high performance levels well into his late thirties.

It’s all to do with the way you look after yourself, the way you train and live your life. I’ve also been fortunate with injuries over the years but by the same token I do a lot of work to prevent injuries. I also do a lot of good old hard work because I still have the desire to keep on playing as long as possible at the highest level.

It’s not difficult at all to keep my motivation going. For me if I find it difficult to get motivated to get up and go to football every day then I would definitely consider retiring. I still get very excited about playing games and going to training. I like training because I enjoy working out to keep fit. And I’m doing that then it makes it easy.

The 39 year-old admitted that he could never have envisaged embarking on a professional career with such longevity when he was sitting on the Australian bench waiting for a chance to make his international debut, which came abruptly when former number one Robert Zabica was sent off against Canada in 1993.

Not in my wildest dreams did I ever believe that I would be playing almost 20 years later and nudging 100 caps for my country. I don’t suppose anyone would imagine playing for that long. I think these things evolve as times goes by. A lot of things have to fall in your favour along the way and you need a lot of hard work and dedication.

You get a lot of ups and downs in your career and there are a lot of factors that dictate if you play that long or get that many caps. So I feel very privileged to have reached this stage of my career and I’m enjoying every moment of it. The last two years have been the most enjoyable in my life in football terms.

Schwarzer’s German heritage also meant that his goalkeeping heroes as a child were largely European ‘like Harald Schumacher to a degree and particularly Jean-Marie Pfaff and later Bodo Illgner’. As a consummate professional, it is no surprise that Schwarzer feels footballers should act as ambassadors for the game and to the children who dream of emulating them.

Behaviour is definitely an aspect of one’s career. But you get that (mix) in all walks of life. There are those who believe that they should act responsibly on and off the pitch while others choose to live their own lifestyle.

But it is true that there are always repercussions to your actions. As far as I’m concerned I’ve always set a standard that I’ve tried to follow on and off the field. And when you become a father it becomes even more important to you because you want to lead by example.

The article concludes with Schwarzer looking ahead towards Brazil – insisting that representing Australia in the World Cup ‘is a very realistic target but beyond that is too far for me’. Whether Martin Jol makes a change in the Fulham goal before then, given the promising performances of David Stockdale in recent seasons, will be another big decision for the Dutch coach.

Schwarzer or Stockdale?

Martin Jol’s team selection at Eastlands tonight will be very interesting indeed. Will Dickson Etuhu – badly missed in the past couple of weeks – be restored to the starting line-up? In the absence of Pavel Pogrebnyak or Andy Johnson, will Clint Dempsey continue to plough a lone farrow up front? But the one question that will tell us whether Jol’s a pragmatist or has a true desire to bring down the age of his first team is who the Fulham manager picks in goal.

David Stockdale’s done pretty well since being rushed back from his loan spell at Ipswich. He preserved parity at Stamford Bridge in the derby and made a few important saves against Arsenal and Newcastle. If you were going to be critical, he should have saved Mortem Gamst Pedersen’s free-kick at Blackburn and might have stopped Formica’s crucial third. Equally, perhaps Stockdale could have done better with either of the headers that knocked us out of the FA Cup at Everton. Young goalkeepers – and, 26, Stockdale is young for a keeper – make mistakes and Stockdale is Fulham’s future. He also needs first-team football to cement his position as Fabio Capello’s number three goalkeeper, as Jol himself conceded:

If Mark plays then I will have to sit down with David. He told me at the start of the season he needed to play and I think he was right.

Mark Schwarzer’s quality isn’t in doubt either. He’s had an outstanding career in England with Bradford, Middlesbrough – and latterly with Fulham. The Australian commands his box with authority, which is the area where Stockdale might improve, and has been a key part of the club’s success over the last few years. Yet, there are signs that his powers are waning. His decision to come for a cross at Wolves was a rash one and he let a speculative shot from Leon Best beat him a little easily up at Newcastle.

The reports suggest that Schwarzer’s ready to challenge for a starting spot against Manchester City today. He’s the safer option I suppose and, having just signed a two-year contract, looks like the number one. But there is always the danger that Stockdale might become tired of being passed over. Jol made it clear he would be looking to reinvigorate an ageing squad on his arrival but so far, with the exception of introducing Kerim Frei, has been largely conservative in his choices. Sticking with Stockdale would prove he means business.