• Etheridge aims to lift Walsall FC to next level

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    Neil Etheridge  Contributed photo

    Neil Etheridge
    Contributed photo

    Philippine Azkals goalkeeper Neil Etheridge wants to take his English League One club Walsall FC to the next level in the ongoing League Championship.

    Etheridge, who signed for the third tier squad in July 2015, plays a vital role in the Saddlers’ defense and currently has a total of 31 appearances for the team.

    “All I know is that we will do our best as a team and a squad and see where it takes us,” the 26-year-old shot-stopper told The Manila Times.

    Walsall holds a record of 21 wins, 12 draws and nine losses for 75 points and is just three points behind from securing one of the two available slots for promotion in the domestic league.

    With just four more games left in their season, Etheridge and his crew are within striking distance of overtaking second seed Burton Albion FC, who has 78 points on 23 victories, nine draws and 11 defeats.

    “Football is a crazy sport and anything can happen. Just look at the last Azkals game where we were up then down, then down and out and all of a sudden eight minutes to go we take the game and win it. So who knows,” he said.

    The Filipino-English booter said that he is happy with the trust that the management of Walsall has given him.

    “It’s been a great club to me and we have a had a great season. I thank Walsall and everyone at the club for giving me this opportunity, at this current moment in time my main focus is to get us promoted any way I can,” he stated.

    Etheridge said that he has been thriving with the system of the Saddlers and stressed that the coaches has taken his skills to a higher level.

    “The season has been great from start to finish. I have improved both as a person and as a player, on and off the field. It’s been a long season but still a lot of games to go.

    “I have had a great goalkeeping coach Neil Cutler who I believe has taken me to the next level, taking me out of comfort zones and expressing myself to be the goalkeeper I am today,” he added.

    During Etheridge’s previous game with the club, he played a key role in maintaining a 1-1 draw against 16th seeded brigade Swindon Town FC on April 19.

    Etheridge and his teammates will go through Bradford City AFC, Shrewbury Town FC, Fleetwood Town FC and Port Vale FC before capping off their campaign.

    Etheridge will be back in the country after the 2015-2016 League One season to hold the second edition of the NE1 Goalkeeping School in Manila in June.

    JAELLE NEVIN REYES

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