Former England goalkeeper Ray Clemence - Norwich City’s John Ruddy is improving all the time
Norwich City goalkeeper John Ruddy is in the form of his life – the kind of form that could place him side by side with the Canaries' great glovesmen.
Certainly as far as former England goalkeeper and current coaching stalwart Ray Clemence is concerned, the City number one can be anything he wants to be.
Ruddy, 25, made appearance 95 of his Norwich career with Saturday's defeat of Manchester United and is coincidentally on schedule to complete his century against the man who signed him, Paul Lambert, in the Capital One League Cup quarter-final with Aston Villa – should he be handed his first knockout appearance of the campaign.
The England international has been Mr Reliable all season, Ruddy's commanding presence added to the organisation of those in front seeing City go more than five and a half hours without conceding a Premier League goal ahead of Saturday's Everton trip.
Only West Ham keeper Jussi Jaaskelainen and Stoke's Asmir Begovic have matched Ruddy's tally of five top-flight clean sheets this season. The race for the Golden Glove has been owned by England number one and Manchester City keeper Joe Hart for the last two campaigns.
A prolonged stay both at Carrow Road and at the top of the game will ultimately propel Ruddy alongside the likes of City keeping greats Sandy Kennon, Chris Woods and Robert Green who all had more than 240 City outings to their name. But on talent and performances Ruddy, who this weekend returns to the club that sold him to Norwich little more than two years ago, is already proving his Premier League class.
'He had a tremendous year last season and he has continued that this year,' said Clemence.
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'He got himself into the England squad and had the disappointment of damaging his finger, which ruled him out of the European Championships.
'But he's got back into the squad this year, had half a game against Italy which he did very well in and he's continuing that form in his league games. And that's great for (England manager) Roy Hodgson.
'What I've seen of him this year, he's certainly improved from the very start of last season, that's a certainty, and of course playing regularly always helps a young goalkeeper.
'He's getting to an ideal age now for a goalkeeper when you're starting to come into maturity.
'You still need experience and he's lucky he is gaining that experience now. He's looking very comfortable in whatever arena you put him in.
'I am not going to put any pressure on him. John will do what he wants to do. He has forced himself into the England squad over a short period of time. He's done very well with that.
'He has got to keep working and keep improving.
'He knows as much as everybody does there are still things you always try to improve.
'And if he keeps working on those, who knows where he could finish.'
• TOP 10 PREMIER LEAGUE KEEPERS BY NUMBER OF SAVES
1 Schwarzer - 72
2 Al Habsi - 71
3 Ruddy - 68
4 Begovic - 63
5 Mignolet - 61
6 Jaaskelainen - 61
7 Cech - 56
8 Foster - 55
9 Guzan - 55
10 Howard - 51
• TOP 10 BY SAVES PER GOAL
1 Myhill - 7 (14 saves, 2 conceded)
2 Tremmel - 6.67 (20 saves, 3 conceded)
3 Begovic - 5.73 (63 saves, 11 conceded)
4 Jones - 5.5 (22 saves 4 conceded)
5 Mignolet - 5.25 (63 saves, 12 conceded)
6 Jasskelainen - 5.08 (61 saves 12 conceded)
7 Ben Foster - 5 (55 saves 11 conceded)
8 Cech - 4.3 (56 saves 13 conceded)
9 Harper - 3.86 (27 saves 7 conceded)
10 Krul - 3.83 (46 saves 12 conceded)
=11th Ruddy - 3.78 (68 saves, 18 conceded)