Praise for City number one from keeper colleagues as Holland recall looms
- Credit: PA
If Norwich City number one Tim Krul does get his recall to the Holland squad next month, it will complete a remarkable top-level return for the 31-year-old.
The former Newcastle number one was watched by Holland boss Ronald Koeman and goalkeeper coach Patrick Lodewijks during Saturday's 1-0 loss to Liverpool.
Krul revealed after the narrow defeat to the runaway leaders that "the Dutch team is coming calling again hopefully" but also said his only focus was on Premier League survival with City. With his country having friendlies against the USA and Spain at the end of next month ahead of Euro 2020, a fine comeback story is brewing...
- INTERNATIONAL HISTORY
It was in Kazakhstan where Krul's career path hit a fork in the road, which would eventually lead him to Norwich. An awkward landing on an artificial pitch during the closing stages of Holland's 2-1 win in Astana in October 2015, during Euro 2016 qualifying, had a major impact.
A damaged anterior cruciate ligament brought an early end to his 2015-16 campaign and, eventually, his long association with Newcastle United. Loans at Ajax and AZ Alkmaar back in Holland got Krul back on track and after a season as Brighton's number two, he joined Norwich in 2018 to really get his career back on an upward trajectory.
That night in Kazakhstan had brought an eighth cap, having made his debut in a 0-0 friendly draw against Brazil in 2011, keeping a clean sheet against a team including Neymar, Robinho and Dani Alves. Krul was also capped 12 times at U21 level but it was at World Cup 2014 when his big chance came, despite spending the majority of the tournament as cover for Jasper Cillessen.
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Louis van Gaal turned to Krul's penalty saving expertise at the end of extra-time of a 0-0 draw with underdogs Costa Rica in the quarter-finals - and it paid off, with Krul saving two penalties in a 4-3 shootout success.
- FORM THIS SEASON
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After completing last season's Championship title triumph as an ever-present for Daniel Farke, Krul has managed to hold off strong competition from experienced Schalke loanee Ralf Fahrmann thanks to his consistent form.
The foundations laid during his first season have been pivotal though, with his leadership and big personality making the big shot-stopper an influential figure in the City squad.
There have been a host of top saves from the Dutchman as well, with the Canaries struggling at the wrong end of the table, including a fine double save on Saturday to thwart Liverpool.
Watford keeper Ben Foster tweeted Krul to say: "What a double save that was!"
There was a superb reaction save from Anthony Martial during a 3-1 defeat to Manchester United in October, during which Krul also saved two penalties.
Aston Villa and England keeper Tom Heaton, who is currently out injured, was asked to pick his favourite save of the season so far when he was a guest pundit on BBC Radio Five Live on Sunday.
"The one that springs to mind so far this season is probably Tim Krul for Norwich against Manchester United," said the former Burnley stopper. "It was a reaction save, he dived after it and managed to get a hand on it and get it over the bar.
"I'm a bit of a purist when it comes to saves, I like getting it out of the top corner, when he sees it, moves his feet, dives after it full length. This wasn't quite like that, he got after it and reacted - but it's that good a save, it's probably the best I've seen for a long time."
- HOLLAND COMPETITION
Krul's likely return to Holland contention could even come with the chance of game time, rather than just returning to the squad.
Former Barcelona and Ajax keeper Cillessen has been number one in recent years, starting and finishing the last 17 matches.
However, injuries have kept the 30-year-old out of action for Valencia since early December, although he has been named in the Spanish club's squad for tonight's Champions League last 16 first leg away to Atalanta.
While Krul has been out of action it has largely been Jeroen Zoet and Kenneth Vermeer providing competition for Cillessen, both of whom play in Holland. Utrecht keeper Zoet is 29 years old and has 11 caps but Vermeer, 34, left Feyenoord for MLS side Los Angeles FC so the former Ajax number one looks unlikely to add to his five caps while playing in the USA.
Marco Bizot, 28, of Alkmaar replaced Vermeer in Koeman's last squad but has played all his club football in Holland - although AZ have reached the Europa League group stages and are Ajax's closest title challengers.
With almost 200 appearances in the Premier League to his name, Krul appears to be in prime position to return to that battle.
- You can watch the latest episode of our Terrace Talk fanzine above, ahead of City's trip to Wolves on Sunday