John Ruddy’s fine form deserving of England recognition
Weddings have played a small but not insignificant part in the recent history of the England national side. Fulham goalkeeper David Stockdale was forced to withdraw from the England squad that faced Switzerland last summer due to a clash with his impending nuptials. Fabio Capello also missed his son’s wedding when a friendly with Spain was moved from Friday to Saturday, to facilitate a Barcelona Copa Del Rey tie.
John Ruddy is staking a claim for an England call-up by impressing in Norwich City’s return to the Premier League. The goalkeeper is an outside bet for a place in the European Championship squad, but, if selected, the tournament will clash with his June wedding. Regarding the potential conflict, Ruddy revealed to the Daily Mail: "I’ve got my wedding on June 2, so we’ll see what happens. If I get the call, I’ll ask the missus. I’m sure I can get a day off and take her on holiday to Poland and Ukraine, kill two birds with one stone."
Ruddy’s path to regular top flight football has been long and tortuous. The relegation of Cambridge United in 2005 saw Ruddy sign for Everton at 18 in a £250,000 deal and a succession of loan moves saw him represent eight different clubs before turning 21, with David Moyes effusive in his praise for the young stopper. "We have seen things in him that we think in years to come could make him one of the top goalkeepers." Moyes, quoted by Everton fansite Toffeeweb, explained, adding: “He's played quite a few games for a young lad and we are hopeful we will have a future Everton and a future England goalkeeper."
He made only one appearance for the club before joining Norwich in 2010 for around £100,000, missing only one game as the club finished second to earn automatic promotion to the top flight. The Canaries have only kept one clean sheet thus far but have accrued 29 points and currently occupy the dizzy heights of 11th position, three points behind 7th placed Liverpool and 14 points clear of the bottom three.
Possibly Ruddy’s finest performance thus far saw him repel a series of Liverpool attacks in the 1-1 draw at Anfield, while he also saved a penalty in a 1-1 draw with Stoke. A red card, received for a clumsy challenge on Ramires in a 3-1 defeat at Chelsea and five conceded at Manchester City the only notable disappointments in an impressive campaign.
Authoritative and physically imposing, Ruddy has been watched by England’s goalkeeping scout Ray Clemence on a number of occasions this term. David Stockdale may now rue his missed international opportunity and chance to impress, having played on a regular basis on loan at Ipswich earlier in the season, he was recalled to Fulham to deputise for the injured Mark Schwarzer. He has since lost his place and failed to secure another loan spell before the transfer window closed last week. Stockdale is now likely to sit out the remainder of the season, diminishing his European Championships prospects.
With Paul Robinson and Ben Foster unavailable for selection, Ruddy will face competition from Stockdale, Robert Green and Scott Carson for the two available squad places, alongside Joe Hart. With Green plying his trade in the second tier, Carson a rare starter in Turkey and both tarnished by past errors, John Ruddy’s summer plans may soon be compromised.
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