'Rival stopper won't faze me' says Grimsby Town keeper James McKeown
JAMES McKeown would welcome the challenge of another goalkeeper to push him for the Grimsby Town number one position this season.
After initially being brought to the club as a back up keeper to challenge Kenny Arthur, the 22-year-old impressed in pre-season last summer and went on to become an ever-present for the Mariners.
Throughout the campaign, the Birmingham-born stopper produced some stellar performances and racked up a total of 18 clean sheets in 55 appearances.
Having being kept out of the team all season, Arthur was eventually released, leaving McKeown as the only recognised goalkeeper at the club.
Joint bosses Rob Scott and Paul Hurst have spoken of their desire to draft in another keeper to challenge the for the number one jersey.
And speaking to the Telegraph, McKeown, who has been capped by the Republic of Ireland at youth level, said he would welcome the arrival of fresh competition.
He said: "I've been at clubs where I've been the only keeper and then I've been at clubs where there are two of us so you deal with it as it comes really.
"Playing every game last season and keeping Kenny (Arthur) out of the team was a big thing for me because he is a really good goalkeeper.
"So in that respect it couldn't have gone much better for me personally. But obviously from a team perspective, it was disappointing the way the season faded away for us in the end.
"I did make mistakes last season and I'm the first to admit that, but hopefully I can learn from them and improve on them next season.
"I'm quite happy for another goalkeeper to come in," he added.
"It's good to have competition for places because it brings the best out of you.
'If you're playing well then you hope to get your chance, but then obviously if not there's someone there to take your place.
"I'm sure the managers will bring someone in and I'm sure whoever they do bring in will be a very good goalkeeper – I've got no doubts about that and it will be good for the team."
McKeown added that whoever is brought in will strengthen what he believes is already a strong squad that is capable of challenging this campaign, following the additions of summer signings Andy Cook, Joe Colbeck, Sam Hatton, Aswad Thomas and Greg Pearson.
He said that the new recruits are settling in well and both team morale and confidence are high ahead of the coming season.
He added: "Whoever they bring in will be welcomed like the other new lads.
"They have settled in really well. We're all of a similar age pretty much as well as a couple of more experience lads, but everyone is similar in their mindset and everyone is getting on really well.
"We've got a good core to the squad this year, whereas last year the gaffers were trying to put their own stamp on the squad. It was all a bit up in the air in that respect so it has been a lot better because we have a settled squad.
"The squad looks really good on paper and hopefully all the new lads that have come in will gel together.
"I think part of the start we made to the season was to do with people trying to get to know each other and each other's games and hopefully that won't be an issue this season.
"We've got a good team and there will certainly be no excuses if we're not up there.
"Obviously there are a lot of big teams in the league but we'd like to think that we'll have a chance of having a successful season."