New 'keeper welcomes competition

PUBLISHED: 12:50 29 July 2009 | UPDATED: 16:23 10 September 2010

David Cuffley

Goalkeeper Michael Theoklitos is determined to make up for lost time after kicking off his Norwich City career with a clean sheet.

The 28-year-old Australian had to wait three weeks for his first appearance for the Canaries while he recovered from a hip injury, but helped them maintain their unbeaten pre-season record in last night's 1-0 friendly win at Crystal Palace.

Goalkeeper Michael Theoklitos is determined to make up for lost time after kicking off his Norwich City career with a clean sheet.

The 28-year-old Australian had to wait three weeks for his first appearance for the Canaries while he recovered from a hip injury, but helped them maintain their unbeaten pre-season record in last night's 1-0 friendly win at Crystal Palace.

New faces combined as striker Grant Holt set up Simon Whaley for the only goal after 64 minutes at Selhurst Park, while Theoklitos was another of the six summer signings in the starting line-up, demonstrating sound handling and producing a fine second-half save from Freddie Sears.

The former Melbourne Victory 'keeper admitted it was a relief to finally get 90 minutes under his belt.

He said: “It was a clean sheet and we got the win, 1-0. I haven't played for a while so it was good just to get out there with the boys and get my eye in in a game situation.

“I've been watching the boys for so long, I was just itching to get out there and really looked forward to it.

“We've got Wigan on Saturday at home and the following week, the season starts. There are 25 boys out there who can't wait for August 8 to come round.

“We've got a good bunch of lads, a lot of new faces and we're just getting to know one another. The trip to Scotland really helped, the week away, on and off the pitch we got to meet each other and work together as a team. I think we're looking good, the signs are there.”

Theoklitos has been given added competition for the keeper's jersey by the arrival on loan of Tottenham's Ben Alnwick, who saved a penalty in Saturday's 1-1 draw against a Manchester United XI at Carrow Road.

But he said: “Every position is going to have competition and I'm no different being a goalkeeper.

“Even if Ben wasn't here we've got two young lads who are very good, capable goalkeepers and it's good to keep everyone on their toes. I'm really looking forward to working with Ben and the younger boys. I can't wait for the season to start.

“I've done a fair bit of training with the guys. It's just getting into a game situation now.

“I have been very impressed with the past four or five games - we've had a very solid defence and I'm looking forward to working with the boys in front of me.

“We played some good stuff at times and we had a few more clear-cut chances than Palace did, so we did look more like the Championship side.”

The back four was reshuffled more than once last night as centre-half Michael Nelson and full-back Adam Drury suffered injuries.

Said Theoklitos: “It's good to see different players come into those different positions and do a job for us. It's a long season and you get injuries. Micky Spillane came into the middle and did a great job for us. We need that in pre-season games just to see who can play in which positions.”

Manager Bryan Gunn praised Theoklitos for his debut performance.

He said: “Michael was excellent. I was sitting beside Ian Crook, and we were watching play at the other end but we could hear Michael talking to his defenders and shouting out instructions. That's what we knew we were signing, someone to organise the back four and once that relationship builds between Michael and the defence, we'll see more of what we saw tonight - clean sheets.”

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