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Debut Review: Mark Howard

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The goalkeeper has usurped Ben Amos and made his debut against his former club.

Queens Park Rangers v Sheffield United - FA Cup Third Round
Howard in his Sheffiled United days.
Photo by Jordan Mansfield/Getty Images

The Londoner started his career in the Arsenal youth system but never made the step up to first team football. He spent time on loan at Falkirk before moving to Cardiff City. He only made 2 first team appearances for the Welsh side and was loaned out to rivals Swansea City, no doubt making him the most popular player there. He failed to make an appearance for Swansea which meant that he had made about 10 professional appearances in 2 years, most of which came at Falkirk.

After his time in Wales he moves north of the boarder again and joined Scottish side St Mirren. He spent a season as first choice keeper and was even rewarded with a contract extension. But he only made a handful of appearances the following season as he lost top billing. Next up was Aberdeen where he was initially first choice goalkeeper but lost his place and only made around 10 appearances in his one year at the club.

Then he returned to English football with Blackpool signing a five month deal. He made a handful of appearances for the club and was offered an extension to the contract but failed to agree a deal to stay on at Bloomfield Road. He then went to Sheffield United as back up and had to wait until his second season at the club to become first choice. He suffered an injury though during that seasons and was unable to regain his starting berth.

That was until Nigel Clough took over and put him in for an FA Cup tie. After that he retained his place, and one would assume was a part of the Sheffield United side who would become the best cup side in the country for a spell. During his time at the club he set the record for consecutive clean sheets which currently stands at 8. After his initial deal came to an end a one year extension was triggered which took him up to last summer. But at the end of that deal no further contract was on offer so he became a free agent and rocked up at Bolton Wanderers.

Having been released by The Blades it must have been nice for him to make his debut against the club and keep his first clean sheet.

His history does highlight one thing clearly and that is that he has struggled to hold down a first team place for one reason or another. Now this may just have been bad luck. One occasion can be attributed to injury and there may have been extenuating circumstances on other occasions, such as playing under five managers at Sheffield United which does not promote consistency.

Chopping and changing in the goalkeeper department is something we are used to after Andrew Lonergan and Adam Bogdan trading the jersey. But that does not meant it wouldn’t be an issue if he constantly lost his place due to inconsistencies in form. But with any luck Ben Amos will have a better time of it this season than last when given the chance (having not seen whether he was at fault for any Blackpool goals) and him coming into the team will not be too big an issue should it happen.

In relation to Howard it is great to have a new number 1 after Amos’ difficulties last season and it is also fantastic to have two decent goalkeepers to call on once again. Hopefully this will herald in a new spell of competent goalkeeping at the club.