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SWINDON TOWN: Foderingham happy with sweeper-keeper role
BY THE end of the season, Wes Foderingham ought to be the best footballing goalkeeper in League One.
The 22-year-old, who recently passed his second anniversary of signing for Swindon Town, has had to reinvent himself as a sweeper who’s good with his gloves this year and, while it has taken time for him to adjust, Foderingham is enjoying the role.
It’s a big departure from life under Paolo Di Canio, when the former Crystal Palace stopper had the benefit of two, deep-sitting banks of four in front of him and his defence was designed to soak up wave after wave of attack, rarely letting the opposition have a sight of goal.
Now Foderingham fills the Beckenbauer role, roaming around his defensive third laying short passes off to his full-backs and holding midfield players. It can be wonderful and worrying to watch at the same time.
“I’m getting more and more comfortable with it, I’m developing and it’s great,” he told the Advertiser. “I think the modern-day goalkeeper needs to be good with his feet and it’s helping me do that.
“I’m playing higher up the pitch so I’m trying to sweep up any balls that come through the two defenders.
“I’m always confident that it will come right in the end. We’re all good footballers, the way we play now leaves us open at the back at times and open to the counter-attack at times but that’s why we’ve gone with three at the back.
“When we were playing with the four our full-backs were always attacking and it was just our two centre-halfs and me really. It’s a difficult task.”
Despite some fans having qualms over Swindon’s defensive shape and perceived fragility, only five League One teams have conceded fewer goals than the Robins so far this term.
Foderingham and his defence have kept clean sheets in each of their last three league matches and the keeper is happy with his side’s recent form.
“At the start of the season we were leaking sloppy and goals but now we look to have cancelled it out and we’re looking pretty solid at the back,” he said.
“We’ve gone with a three at the back now with two wing-backs, which has probably helped us. In an attacking sense it gives us extra options going forwards but in a defensive sense it gives us an extra defender in there to help tidy it up.
“I think as a four we’ve come on since we started that formation and we’re really pleased with it.”
While Swindon were an unknown package at the start of the campaign, the Robins’ recent performances have certainly brought to light the way Mark Cooper’s men play and Foderingham has noticed other teams’ tactics change accordingly.
“It’s difficult at times because you’re getting the ball and you’re under immediate pressure because people are getting the DVD and seeing how we play, and they come out and press you from the off,” he said.
“It’s difficult sometimes to make that decision. If you make a mistake then nine times out of 10 it’s going to end up in a goal. You’ve got to make the right option, I think I’m doing alright with that.”
Once such instance came during the clash with Notts County on Friday night when Foderingham’s chipped clearance from Jay McEveley’s back pass rebounded off visiting striker Danny Haynes and went just wide.
“I’ve told Jay to set it back to me and the striker’s come back really tight and the only option I had was to try to put it over his left shoulder so if it hit him it was going out and if it went over him it was going to Jay,” Foderingham explained.
“I felt if I took a big swing at it and tried to clear it, it probably would have hit him and ricocheted in the goal. Obviously I didn’t want to do that.”
So, after all that, Foderingham is more than happy to keep learning the skills of a sweeper with a pair of gloves – and he knows that he must continue to improve.
“When you’re an outfield player you can afford to give away a sloppy pass or a bad touch and get tackled, because there are people there to help you out,” he said.
“If I take a bad touch and the striker gets there before me it’s going to end up in a goal so I have to keep concentrated and make the right decision when the ball comes back to me.”
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