John Ruddy has time on his side, says Everton coach Chris Woods
PA Wire/Press Association Images
John Ruddy has time on his side regarding international recognition, as far as ex-Canaries stopper and current Everton goalkeeping coach Chris Woods is concerned.
Woods, a 1985 League Cup and Second Division title winner during his five years with Norwich City, helped develop Ruddy as a prospect at Goodison Park before he made his move to Carrow Road in July 2010.
Since then Ruddy has impressed, becoming one of the Premier League’s top young goalkeepers and a major contender for City’s player of the season award this term. And although the England call-up some Norwich fans have looked for has not arrived yet, Woods is happy to see his old protégé blossoming at his former club.
“I’m not surprised with John’s success at all – he was with us for a number of years and he’s always had great potential,” said Woods, capped 43 times by England. “He needed the games, which he left Everton to get, and it has helped him enormously. He’s a great reader of the game, a great presence and he’s just proved to everyone how good a keeper he has become.
“It’s hard when you are not playing games because you need to do that in order to make decisions. You can’t make decisions on a training ground, day in day out. That’s the important thing and John has been really good with the fact he goes out and generally the decisions he makes are correct.
“Obviously consistency is a major part of a goalkeeping repertoire and you need to make sure if you do make a mistake, it’s going to be three or four games until you make another.
“That’s what you have to learn and I’m sure that is what John is learning all the time. He is a very level-headed lad that works hard, so I’m just really pleased he is where he is.”
And that England call?
“He’s only played in the top flight for one season and he’s not even completed that yet – but all John has got to keep doing is carrying on putting the performances in and let everything else take care of itself.
“You know what it’s like. As soon as you start playing well people start saying this, that and the other. You need to keep focused on the position and the job that you’ve got in front of you and I’m sure John will do that.”
In-form Everton visit Carrow Road on Saturday having lost just twice in 15 matches and have an FA Cup semi-final with city rivals Liverpool to look forward to seven days later. And Woods is looking forward to a rare trip back to the club at which he made 267 appearances following a 1981 move from QPR.
“I can’t believe when I look back how many years ago that was – I’m getting old, I’m afraid,” said the 52-year-old. “I’ve been back a couple of times since I left and there have been massive changes. It’s a great ground and when it’s full it has got a really great atmosphere. It’s somewhere that will always be very close to me – I thoroughly enjoyed my time there.
“It was a great place to be. We went to the Milk Cup final, we ended up with a relegation and promotion, so there was a bit of everything. We had a great set of lads and everybody went out together, played hard for each other and the staff was good. The whole club, I can’t speak highly enough about it. It was a great time in my career.”
Woods agrees that some of those old habits shine through Paul Lambert’s current side, guided by his assistant Ian Culverhouse – a former City team-mate of Woods, who moved to Scottish giants Glasgow Rangers when he left in 1986.
“It’s great to see people you played with and go on about old times and then see what they’re doing at the moment,” added Woods. “I probably played against Paul (Lambert) when he was at St Mirren but it’s a long time ago. Obviously he has done a tremendous job at Norwich and hopefully I’ll wish both him and Ian continued success – after Saturday.”
Those Norwich fans hoping Everton’s big date with Liverpool could mean David Moyes’ men take their eyes off their Easter challenge may be left disappointed.
“The manager wouldn’t let that happen,” warned Woods. “We’ve also got Sunderland at home on Monday, so we won’t be looking at the semi-final until after that.
“Everybody wants to play in the big games and you need to make sure you are performing so you get picked and play in those. No matter who you’re playing we like to think everybody is working hard to achieve that.
“But we’re not too bad at the moment. Obviously it’s going to be a tough game coming up to Carrow Road. Norwich have been playing well and they’ve had a great season so far.”