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Saturday 10 December 2016

Ireland in safe hands with Darren

Randolph feels sharp despite limited football for West Ham

Darren Randolph. Pic: Sportsfile
Darren Randolph. Pic: Sportsfile

Darren Randolph's phlegmatic nature is ideally suited to the down side of goalkeeping as a full-time profession.

Once chosen, netminding is a vocation which often requires infinite patience and a very thick skin.

In the early part of the Premier League season while shots were flying into West Ham's net with increasing regularity past Slaven Bilic's first choice Adrian, Randolph could only sit and wait.

He considered a knock on the Gaffer's door but at about the time he was girding his loins to make a case for himself as worthy of a Premier League start, Bilic steadied the ship.

"There's never a good time to go when results are going like that. I chose the route of trying to show him in training. Play me if you want me," said Randolph.

Ireland goalkeepr Darren Randolph is pictured during training in Abbotstown ahead of Saturday’s World Cup qualifier against Austria in Vienna. Pic: PA
Ireland goalkeepr Darren Randolph is pictured during training in Abbotstown ahead of Saturday’s World Cup qualifier against Austria in Vienna. Pic: PA

"I haven't been to see him. At the point I was going to go we started winning games again."

A couple of 1-0 victories and Randolph settled in for another wait.

Patient

"Adrian has been there for four or five years he's going to get the benefit of the doubt and get more games for the team to try and turn things around. I have to be patient like I have been and wait around," he said.

You have to be a particular type of character to endure that kind of frustration and still face the world with an even temperament.

No doubt, those prone to histrionics or even forthright views about their own ability are weeded out of the goalkeeping talent pool by the nature of the gig.

But still, it must be hard. Randolph is naturally calm but there have to be quiet moments of intense frustration.

All of that said, Randolph is still remarkably fortunate to have a pretty significant rolling consolation prize when he plays for Ireland despite the obvious questions about sharpness.

West Ham's Europa League elimination didn't help.

"European football would have been the best. I would have had a lot more games but we didn't perform and didn't get there," said Randolph.

"I'm doing everything to remain sharp. I don't feel any different than I do when I get the game time I don't feel any less sharp than I normally would. So, so far, it's not an issue."

Rob Elliott returned to training at Newcastle on Monday which should be an ominous development for Randolph but he is close to the Toon netminder who had that most unfortunate injury against Slovakia in March. Had he remained fit, Randolph would have had serious competition in France.

"I spoke to Rob the other day, he had his first training session with the boys. Monday was his first day back I think. It's good that he's back after being out for so long with that injury. I don't worry, without sounding too mean, I don't care what the other boys are doing, I focus on myself. I'm not the kind to lose sleep over or worrying about someone else," he said.

Reward

"There are probably a lot more Irish keepers who have played more games at club level than I have played.

Randolph won the trust of Martin O'Neill a year ago when he stepped in against Germany and has been first choice since.

"It's shown that if you perform for him he'll reward you. The fact Westie has started playing more games, I have to hold my hand up. Again, there's nothing I can do. My situation is that it is. If I don't play, I don't play."

For the moment, Randolph is holding on to the possibility that he will get his chance and play Premier League football which means he is not interested in a loan or a move.

"I'm not going to give up on Premiership football already. This is just the start of my second season. I'm not just going to up and leave all of a sudden. If it were to happen, it happens. I've had an enjoyable year but hopefully that's not the end of it.

"To be in that position where I am number one for the last year and getting the chance to play at the Euros has been brilliant.

"Now a few months later you look back on what an achievement it was. It is nice to look back at different images and stuff that stick out in your head.

"Different points in games, different moments with the team around the hotel, out and about in Paris.

"Everybody wants to get there again. We have a relatively young squad and there is a chance to get to a World Cup. Everybody wants to experience that again."

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