Rudd ready to step it up
David Cuffley Teenager Declan Rudd is in line to become one of Norwich City's youngest goalkeepers of all time if he makes his first team debut next season - after signing a new three-year deal with the club.
Teenager Declan Rudd is in line to become one of Norwich City's youngest goalkeepers of all time if he makes his first team debut next season - after signing a new three-year deal with the club.
The England Under-19 squad 'keeper, who turned professional a year ago, has been rewarded for an outstanding season in the Academy ranks and looks certain to be a regular member of manager Bryan Gunn's first team squad in League One.
While the Canaries are still reported to be looking for another senior goalkeeper following the sale of David Marshall to Cardiff - with Birmingham's Colin Doyle believed to be the target for a loan deal - the length of Rudd's new contract underlines how highly he is regarded at Carrow Road.
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It also guarantees that City can collect a decent fee if Rudd is targeted by another club, in the same way they were paid �400,000 for Joe Lewis before he had made a senior appearance.
“This is a big season for Declan, off the back of a tremendous campaign last year for the Academy and a few reserve appearances,” said Gunn. “He now has an opportunity to really make his name in the professional game and has the attributes and the capability of being a top goalkeeper.”
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Diss-born Rudd was named as a substitute for a first-team game more than a year ago, in the final match of the 2007-08 season at Sheffield Wednesday.
But if he gets his first taste of senior action this season, Rudd, not 19 until January, could be a younger City debutant than current England 'keeper Robert Green and former player of the season Andy Marshall.
Rudd helped the young Canaries reach the FA Youth Cup quarter-finals and runners-up spot in the FA Premier Academy Under-18 League last season.
“I'm very proud, happy that I've got a new contract for the beginning of the season so I can kick on and hopefully get a place in the first team,” he told the club's official website.
“Playing for the youth team was good because it meant I got a lot of games. We had a good run in the FA Youth Cup and got into the quarter-finals, which helped me a lot.
“It has made me realise that the big occasions are not as scary as they might look, so it's helped me with my confidence and I really enjoyed last season.”
Rudd - discovered by City youth coach Colin Watts playing as a striker for Bressingham at the age of eight - had a starring role in the Youth Cup victories over Stoke, when he saved two penalties and then converted the winning kick, and Wigan.
Rudd was called into the England Under-19 squad for European Championship qualifying matches just over three weeks ago, and while he didn't play, he was happy to gain the experience.
“It was really good being called up for the age above, playing with players that have been playing regularly in the Championship and League One,” he said. “The quality was good and it kept me on my toes over the end of season break.”