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Monday 24 September 2018

'No one's having Gavin just yet' - claims Bradley

RISING STAR: Shamrock Rovers’ teenage goalkeeper Gavin Bazunu. Photo: SPORTSFILE
RISING STAR: Shamrock Rovers’ teenage goalkeeper Gavin Bazunu. Photo: SPORTSFILE

The bright lights of England beckon for the teenager, but Shamrock Rovers boss Stephen Bradley expects his goalkeeping prodigy Gavin Bazunu to still be at the Hoops, and in school, next season.

Bazunu has made waves since breaking into the Rovers first team this season at the tender age of 16, keeping a string of clean sheets and impressing on the Europa League stage.

He has been strongly-linked with a January cross-channel move, at the end of the current League of Ireland season, Manchester City and Tottenham among the clubs keen on the keeper.

But Bradley says that Bazunu, who was named as July's player of the month by the SSE Airtricity Soccer Writers Association, will remain at the club and will sit his Leaving Cert next year, part of the club's arrangement with Ashfield College, where Hoops players can study at second-level while progressing their football careers.

"There's nothing changed. He's still a Shamrock Rovers player. There is a lot of interest obviously but nothing changed," says Bradley, who expects Bazunu to sit his Leaving Cert in June.

"That's always been Gavin's plan. That's the reason we put him into Ashfield, because he wanted to finish his education and I don't see that changing.

"It's about the player and his parents: at the end of the day, it's what they want. We can advise them and give our opinion of what we feel is best. But it's down the player and the parents and, from day one, that's always been the case.

"The education side was really important. I don't see that changing. I expect Gavin to complete his Leaving Cert with us and be a Shamrock Rovers player."

The Hoops camp are still smarting from last weekend when a FAI Cup trip to Drogheda United ended in defeat, extending the club's long wait for a Cup success to at least 32 years.

Another barren spell comes under scrutiny next weekend as Rovers face Bohemians at home in a live TV game, the Hoops without a win in the last four league meetings with their bitter rivals but Bradley insists there is not added pressure on his side due to the Cup loss.

"I don't think it puts any extra emphasis on the game. We go and try and win the game like we do any game at home," he stated.

"It's a Dublin derby, we know there is a lot made of it, but we know if we win the game we don't get four points, we get three. It's another game, we need to relax and understand it is what is it, we need to get back to our levels and try and win the game.

"I think we need to concentrate on what we do well, on what we've been really good at the last while. If we do that, we might still get beat. That's football. As long as we hit our levels, that's all you can ask for.

"We've lost the first round up in Drogheda. The fans are angry, they're frustrated, they've every right to be. It's a competition we felt we could have gone far in but we didn't."

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