'They have been absolutely fantastic' - Canaries keeper McGovern full of praise for team-mates
PUBLISHED: 12:49 14 February 2019 | UPDATED: 12:49 14 February 2019
He's had the best seat in the house for Norwich City's unexpected promotion push and back-up keeper Michael McGovern thinks his team-mates have been 'absolutely fantastic' so far this season.
Although the Canaries slipped to second place after a 3-1 loss at in-form Preston on Wednesday night – just a second defeat in 20 league games – they are still two points clear of third with 14 games remaining.
Northern Ireland international McGovern has provided cover for ever-present number one Tim Krul in all but one Championship match of the campaign, being restricted to five cup appearances.
“The boys have been flying, I must say,” the 34-year-old said. “I don’t think a lot of people outside of our dressing room expected us to be up where we are at the moment. All credit to the management team and the players. They have been absolutely fantastic.
“We’re not getting carried away; we know there’s still a lot of work to do but we’ve put ourselves in a fantastic position and hopefully we can keep it going between now and the end of the season.
“Obviously, for me, it’s difficult when I’m not playing but when I’m not involved I try to support the other goalkeepers who are playing, and I also try to help the young players. I’m maybe not contributing on the pitch, but I try to do my best off the pitch to be a positive influence around the place.
“It would be amazing for everybody connected with the club to win promotion to the Premier League. We’ve worked extremely hard to get ourselves in this position.”
He concluded: “If we could get back to the Premier League there would be some celebrations in the summer!”
McGovern, who is out of contract at City this summer, has been particularly pleased with the progress of his young international colleague Jamal Lewis at left-back.
“Jamal has been absolutely fantastic,” the keeper continued. “He’s a player you can always rely on. You know what you get with him: he’s really focused and nothing fazes him.
“He has a really good mentality and I had no doubts that he would take it all in his stride and he has done. In all of the games he’s played, he’s been good and I think you can see that he could be playing for Northern Ireland for a number of years to come.”
The former Hamilton keeper was signed by Alex Neil in 2016 and has made 28 appearances for Norwich in that time, keeping just three clean sheets.
He has not featured in a league games since April 2017 though, which has contributed to his Northern Ireland opportunities becoming limited. McGovern has 29 international caps and starred at Euro 2016 but has seen Leeds youngster Bailey Peacock-Farrell move ahead of him in the pecking order.
“I’d been number one for a few years and I’ve sort of lost my place there recently,” he continued, speaking to the North Irish FA’s website. “But if I’m not playing – and it’s the type of person I am – I’ll support the lads who are playing.
“I have aspirations to get back in there and back playing. I feel like I’m good enough to be in the team, it’s just basically getting some action club wise, which would be helpful.”
Michael O’Neill’s squad are due to resume Euro 2020 qualifying with home games against Estonia and Belarus in March.