Remi Matthews is ready to cover for Norwich City after his Scottish Premiership loan exploits at Hamilton Academical
PUBLISHED: 07:00 24 June 2017 | UPDATED: 10:50 26 June 2017
He's 23 years old and not yet played a senior game for Norwich City but that could soon change for Remi Matthews. DAVID FREEZER takes a look at the career so far of the keeper set to provide cover next season.
Remi Matthews may not be a name that Canaries fans are particularly familiar with just yet but the keeper could well be on course to be City’s second-choice goalkeeper next season.
Angus Gunn has been brought in on a season-long from Manchester City and the highly rated England Under-21 keeper looks nailed on to be number one under Daniel Farke during the new campaign.
That has prompted Declan Rudd to bring an end to his lengthy association with his hometown club, cutting ties this week in a deal worth around £500,000 to take him back to Preston North End, where he had previously enjoyed success on loan.
That leaves Gunn to compete with Northern Ireland international Michael McGovern for the number one shirt as things stand – although it is understood City sporting director Stuart Webber is open to letting the 32-year-old leave – with experienced former Portsmouth and Exeter keeper Paul Jones providing further cover.
Plenty of supporters wouldn’t argue against that following a largely under-whelming first season in Norfolk for McGovern, having signed a three-year deal after leaving Hamilton Academical last summer.
As the Accies favourite joined his former boss Alex Neil in Norwich, Matthews was sent in the opposite direction and spent the season on loan with Hamilton in the Scottish Premiership – extending his City contract until 2018 at the same time, with the club retaining the option of a further year.
The Gorleston-born keeper made 27 appearances in all competitions, conceding 37 as the Accies battled against relegation. He initially performed well before a shoulder injury at the start of October forced him to miss four months of his loan, but returned to play a key role in survival.
Matthews returned in dramatic fashion in February in the Scottish FA Cup, saving three penalties in a 3-0 shootout win over Dumfermline. He then felt the brunt of a 6-0 thumping against Rangers in front of almost 50,000 at Ibrox but returned to the team in early April and kept six clean sheets in the final 11 games of the campaign, helping survive the relegation play-off against Dundee United.
Those experiences have taken the Canaries academy product to 42 senior appearances, having previously spent time on loan in League Two with Burton Albion and Doncaster Rovers.
He now looks likely to get chances to impress in pre-season as Farke begins his reboot of the City squad and could even get a Carrow Road debut on August 8 when Swindon visit in the first round of the Carabao Cup.
Will he be able to hit the levels required to prove reliable though?
We asked Accies season ticket holder Gilbert Mowat, who writes a weekly article for The Scotsman newspaper, if he had been impressed by Matthews...
How did Remi get on with Accies last season?
Remi came in to replace the Norwich-bound Michael McGovern and impressed right away. He was indispensable for us during the early part of the season and our results dipped when he suffered a shoulder injury after a heavy landing on our artificial turf at the start of October. That caused Remi to be absent from the team until mid February and he made an immediate impact on his return, saving all of Dunfermline’s penalty kicks after a drawn Scottish Cup replay. Towards the end of the season, Remi kept a clean sheet in the final three matches, including the two leg play-off against Dundee United that ensured our survival.
Would fans like to see him return if he was available?
I’m sure that a return by Remi would be very welcome.
What are the strengths of his game?
He’s a very good shot stopper and does pretty well with the ball at his feet too. His distribution of the ball is also impressive.
And which areas does he need to develop?
My only qualms would be about his decision-making about when to come for cross balls and when to leave them alone.
Do you think Matthews is capable of playing in the Championship if Norwich need him to this season?
In my opinion, Michael McGovern is the superior player and I’m surprised and disappointed that Norwich see him as surplus to requirements. I hope Remi does well for Norwich next season and I would think that performing well at Scottish Premiership level will have been a good experience for him for the challenges of this season.
• Watch video of Matthews in action last season above, shutting out Dundee United in a 0-0 draw in the first leg of the Scottish Premiership play-off