McLaughlin and Duke keeping each other on their toes at Bradford City (From Bradford Telegraph and Argus)
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Jon McLaughlin and Matt Duke keeping each other on their toes at Bradford City
Goalkeeping stand-offs are all the rage in the Premier League these days.
Anders Lindegaard and David De Gea are slugging it out for the Manchester United starting job, while French international Hugo Lloris may have cost Spurs £8million but he cannot dislodge veteran Brad Friedel.
Three divisions below, a similar battle is developing at Valley Parade between Jon McLaughlin and Matt Duke.
Senior partner Duke kicked off the campaign before McLaughlin got his chance a fortnight ago at Accrington. They then both took to the pitch on Tuesday after McLaughlin went off in the closing minutes with a side injury.
In the battle of the Bantams number ones, there is no obvious first choice.
McLaughlin admitted: “It’s an interesting situation for this league, although you often see it higher up.
“When you feel you’ve got the ability to be in that first-team squad and playing on a Saturday, that’s what you want to be doing. Myself and Dukey both feel we’re more than good enough to play at this level.
“We’ve just got to do our job on the training pitch and try and put in performances if we get selected. Then it’s up to the manager who he picks.
“It might not be a case of getting the shirt for the full season but it does mean you’re being kept on your toes every week.”
Phil Parkinson highlighted Duke’s attitude after being dropped. While the competition between them is fierce, both keepers get on well.
Duke’s promotion to goalkeeping coach following Kevin Pressman’s sudden departure for Millwall adds an extra dimension.
McLaughlin said: “It’s still early days but it has been working so far. It’s more like a partnership, with Dukey taking the training sessions.
“We are good friends, training partners and team-mates, so it’s not really like a boss and player mentality.
“I’m sure there will be pros and cons, like anything, but we’ve got to do the best we can with it and make sure it doesn’t affect us in any negative way.”
McLaughlin should be well used to the competition after previously fighting the likes of Rhys Evans, Matt Glennon and Lenny Pidgeley for a regular slot in the team. But he senses a more fluid system this season.
He said: “There are different ways of looking at it. Sometimes it’s nice to have the confidence of knowing you are the first-choice goalkeeper.
“At the same time, it is never a good thing in football to get complacent and think that there’s nobody behind you to take your place if performances drop.
“Dukey’s played at the highest level, he is a really experienced keeper and still in great physical shape and form.
“We’ve seen already that this is a really competitive league and if someone’s not doing it, you’ll get replaced. That’s going to be the case with us this year.
“Often with goalkeepers you keep the shirt until you make mistakes. This season might not be a case of that.
“If you’re not putting in eight out of ten each week, they might think that Dukey or Jon could come in and do better.
“It’s a real season of fighting and competing for that spot to make it one of the strongest in the team.”