It’s time for Declan Rudd to prove his quality to Norwich City fans
- Credit: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd
As Declan Rudd proves that patience is a virtue, DAVID FREEZER looks back on the City goalkeeper's career
If any player in Norwich City's squad deserves their shot at proving themselves in the Premier League, it is surely long-serving goalkeeper Declan Rudd.
To say the Diss-born keeper has been patient would be a huge understatement, such is the length of his wait for a genuine chance of becoming the club's number one.
Alex Neil decided it was time to give the 24-year-old his opportunity in Saturday's top-flight fixture at Watford after some inconsistent displays from John Ruddy.
Losing 2-0 saw few City players emerge from Vicarage Road with credit, but Rudd was chosen as man of the match by this newspaper and, overwhelmingly, by users of our websites.
The former England Under-21 shot-stopper will now be hoping to keep his starting spot and finally prove himself as a first-team player for the Canaries.
He must impress this time round though. Ruddy has been far from disastrous and has served City well during his six seasons at Carrow Road, so will expect to reclaim his starting place if his understudy is not convincing in his work.
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Even Ruddy must feel some sort of satisfaction for Rudd though, having trained with him at Colney and warmed up for matches around the country together for so long.
The former Diss High School pupil's association stretches all the way back to watching his first Canaries match at the age of six and joining the club's academy when he was eight years old.
That adds a further satisfaction to his involvement for City supporters, many of whom have often moaned about the lack of academy products making it into the first team.
However, Rudd is far from an unproven novice. He may have accumulated just 24 City appearances across his seven seasons as a professional but he spent the entire 2013/14 season on loan at Preston North End, then in League One.
He earned plenty of plaudits after making 55 appearances in all competitions and keeping 20 clean sheets, playing every minute of every match Preston played that season.
He had also spent three months on loan at Preston the previous season, but his Norwich chances have often come in difficult circumstances.
He has endured painful cup defeats, when the motivation of the players in front of him could be questioned, and come on when City's first-choice goalkeeper has been sent off on three occasions.
Losing 4-0 at home to MK Dons in the League Cup, defeats to Luton Town and Leyton Orient in the FA Cup, facing a Frank Lampard penalty after John Ruddy was sent off against Chelsea – Rudd was there for all of them.
Those experiences cannot have been easy for Rudd but will surely have stiffened his resolve.
In 2014 he extended his contract until the end of the 2016/17 season, with City retaining an option for a further 12 months.
Now it is down to Rudd to retain the golden opportunity put in front of him – and finally start his Canaries career properly.