Neil Etheridge puts Bristol Rovers before Philippines duty
Bristol Rovers on-loan goalkeeper Neil Etheridge will turn down the chance to represent the Philippines at an international tournament later this month in order to help the club move away from the wrong end of the League Two table.
Etheridge, who has been capped 38 times and is the first-choice goalkeeper for the country of his mother's birth, was expected to feature at the ASEAN Football Championships, which is scheduled to take place in Thailand and Malaysia between November 24 and December 22.
The Fulham loanee, who is scheduled to return to Craven Cottage at the end of December, could have potentially missed six games due to his involvement, but Rovers boss Mark McGhee confirmed yesterday: "Neil has decided he won't be going to the tournament.
"We'd still have had Sam Walker here if Neil had chosen to go to and he showed us what a good and reliable goalkeeper he is when he came back in against Sheffield United a couple of weeks ago after a long absence.
Business Cards From Only £10.95 Delivered www.myprint-247.co.ukView details
Our heavyweight cards have FREE UV silk coating, FREE next day delivery & VAT included. Choose from 1000's of pre-designed templates or upload your own artwork. Orders dispatched within 24hrs.
Terms: Visit our site for more products: Business Cards, Compliment Slips, Letterheads, Leaflets, Postcards, Posters & much more. All items are free next day delivery. www.myprint-247.co.uk
Contact: 01858 468192
Valid until: Wednesday, May 22 2013
"Neil is a man in form at the moment, though, so we're pleased we'll have him around. He did make a catastrophic error that led to a goal on Saturday, but that was one of those things that will probably only happen once in his career.
"He went on to make some great saves after that and has done really well for us since arriving from Fulham."
McGhee, however, has suffered a blow ahead of Saturday's game at Rochdale. Current first-choice right-back Matthew Lund will be suspended for one match after he picked up a fifth yellow card of the season in the 3-2 win over Chesterfield.
The manager is set to hand Michael Smith an opportunity to reclaim the right-back berth he looked certain to make his own at the start of the campaign – even though he also has the option of picking Danny Woodards, who is back in training after recovering from a broken leg sustained on the final day of last season.
"Matty has been absolutely fantastic in a number of positions for us in recent weeks," said McGhee.
"Michael Smith is a terrific young player, though, and will eventually be in the side, so this might be his opportunity to reclaim a place.
"Danny is also getting closer and closer with every day he trains with the squad, but I'd really like to get him a (reserve) game for his own piece of mind before we throw him back in. We have to be careful that we don't ask to much of Danny and that he is reassured about his fitness in his own mind before we throw him back in."
McGhee is also hopeful that Leicester defender Cian Bolger will return to Bristol next week and begin training with the squad again after a two-month spell sidelined with a knee injury. Matt Gill is also closing in on a return to full-training and is expected to be ready to return to action early next month.
The manager, meanwhile, reiterated how relieved he was to end a losing run of four games on Saturday when the players returned for training yesterday morning, but he added: "We can play an awful lot better."