Tis: “Two competitive goalkeepers fighting for a shirt”

Manager looks at goalkeeping selection and squad fitness

Exeter City manager Paul Tisdale is pleased to have a selection headache in a positive way when it comes to naming the player to take a starting berth between the sticks ahead of Saturday's home Sky Bet League 2 tie with Morecambe.

Goalkeeper James Hamon was left with a headache in a much more literal sense last weekend – a ball hit the stopper firmly in the face during the warm-up at Cheltenham Town, rendering him with a mild concussion and meaning an 11th-hour call-up to the starting line-up for Christy Pym.

Pym only began his pro career in earnest at the back end of last season, while Hamon received his Football League debut as recently as November.

And now with both goalkeepers available again for this weekend, he admits that it’ll be a tough pick between the two talented 19-year-olds.

“James is well again – he had the required three or four days away from any contact, which is the protocol you get after a minor concussion,” Paul said.

“His nose is sore but he’ll make a habit of that if he has a long career.  And he is fit for selection again.

“Christy Pym was outstanding on Saturday so he makes my job very difficult on Saturday with what to do.  All anybody can do as a player is come in and make a hard job for the manager in terms of selecting the side by being competitive.

“He did extremely well with his performance at Cheltenham, and now James is back I have again got two very competitive young goalkeepers fighting for a shirt.”

Unlike the outfield positions, there isn’t a lot in the way of leeway in terms of getting game-time as a glovesman.  Managers don’t tend to give their goalkeepers minutes from the bench, whereas strikers often get the odd late showing.

But Paul feels that the two young stoppers are helping to bring the best out of each other, even if one or the other has to suffer the disappointment of a seat on the bench each weekend.

“There is no room to appease anybody when it comes to a goalkeeping decision because you’re not going to change a goalkeeper midway through a game and you’re not going to rotate so much,” he explained.

“With forward players you can appease someone and you have got more propensity for keeping everybody happy.  With goalkeepers you are either in or you’re out.

“That’s life and we all know what it’s about and they know what it’s about.  I’ve got a good situation and I’m sure in the fullness of time they will both look at it and both realise that the fact they were both competing together at the same age and both with real ability is a strength rather than a weakness.

“That competition will push them.  If one of them gets left out at any point, they probably won’t see it that way.  But in the fullness of time it is a good situation for all of us to be in, including them.”

In other squad news, the squad is almost at 100 per cent availability.

Jamie Reid returned to the fold at Cheltenham and took a seat on the bench for the first time in City colours for over a year.  Only David Noble and long-term absentee Pat Baldwin are definitely unavailable.

That is the sort of situation Paul feels will benefit Exeter going into the final stretch.

“Craig Woodman is fit for selection, Danny Butterfield is back in for selection, Alex Nicholls is fit again, Clinton Morrison is fully fit, James Hamon is fully fit and we think Liam Sercombe will be fit as well,” he continued.

“So from Saturday we have six players returning for selection for this weekend’s game.

“It is where we need to be – if we want a productive team over the next month, and look at two games over the Easter weekend, we need to be able to use the squad and work off the back of circumstances.”