PREVIEW: Bristol Rovers vs Torquay
ON-loan goalkeeper Neil Etheridge believes Bristol Rovers have enough quality to make a promotion challenge this season – and says he wouldn't mind being around to be a part of it.
Etheridge has extended his loan spell from Premier League club Fulham until the end of the year after impressing in the five games he has played for Rovers during his initial one-month stay.
The 22-year-old's arrival, meanwhile, has coincided with a recent upturn in Rovers' fortunes that has served to revive optimism among supporters following a disappointing start to the campaign.
Etheridge said: "I'm loving every moment of my time here. I didn't even have to think about extending my stay, it was a total no-brainer for me.
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"I'm here until Christmas and I'll be delighted if we can move up the league because I feel this is a team with great potential.
"If I can stay on after that then I'd hope we can get in the play-offs with a longer-term view of getting into League One.
"I'm just looking at things game-by-game right now. I'm just going to get my head down and work hard and then it's up to the gaffer if he wants me to stay longer."
Etheridge will be hoping to claim a second clean sheet of his stay when Rovers attempt to continue their recent improvements against Torquay United at the Memorial Stadium tomorrow.
"The whole team has to take credit for the way we are starting to click," said Etheridge. "The back four has been helping me out massively; it's not just all about me and how I'm doing between the sticks."
Etheridge returned to Bristol from international duty late on Wednesday night after winning his 38th cap for the Philippines in a 2-1 defeat at the hands of Kuwait.
The Enfield-born stopper, who qualifies to play for the Phillipines through his mother, has been the subject of national media attention since his move to the Memorial Stadium and he added: "It's a bit of a strange one. You expect Premier league players to get all the media attention, but I've had to do quite a few media interviews since I've been here.
"People seem to be quite interested in the fact I play for the Philippines national team and I've enjoyed all of that publicity. It has been good for myself, Bristol Rovers and for my national team.
"It also helps me to improve my own media skills, but it is important to remember that I'm here to improve as a player first and foremost."
Etheridge, meanwhile saved a penalty as his side went down in the Kuwait Sports Club Stadium in Kaifan on Tuesday night.
"They ended our chances of getting to the World Cup so we wanted to get some payback," Etheridge said.
"It was good to save the penalty, but then they got another one in the second half and also scored another goal that was questionable.
"Every game is good experience for us and we're pleased to be moving forward. We have the South East Asia Cup tournament in November, so that is something for us all to look forward to."
Etheridge was in for training early on Thursday still suffering the effects of a long seven-hour flight the night before and he said: "The travelling can be a bit stressful, but that's international football and you have to accept that.
"I'll get some rest and then be ready to play for Rovers again on Saturday. It will be good to be back at the Memorial Stadium as the fans have been great to me."