Ipswich Town goalkeeper benefitted from working with David James

Goalkeeper Dean Gerken playing on trial for Ipswich Town at Crawley

Goalkeeper Dean Gerken playing on trial for Ipswich Town at Crawley - Credit: Archant

Dean Gerken won’t go far wrong in his quest to become Ipswich Town’s permanent number one keeper if he takes inspiration from a former England and Premier League stalwart.

The 28-year-old looks set to make his home debut for the Blues against Middlesbrough tomorrow, having joined on a free transfer from Bristol City in the summer.

During his time at Ashton Gate, the former Colchester United stopper worked with David James, a wonderful talent who produced moments of genius during a 25-year career in England.

Gerken found his appearances in the West Country limited during four years at the club and while James proved to be thorn in his side, the Rochford-born goalkeeper admitted he learned a lot from the experienced stopper.

“From a technique point of view, David James did things his own way, he was unorthodox and you could not teach what he did,” said Gerken.

“He played to the best of his capabilities and was one of the best in the world doing it his way. Not many goalies could do what he did. I have never seen a goalkeeper as athletic as him.

“But his mental strength and his decision-making were spot-on. Whether he carried out those decisions right technically afterwards was another thing, but his attitude to football was excellent. He was wanting to win games at the age of 40-41, whether it be in a five-a-side or in a professional game.

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“That’s a good thing for a goalkeeper or any sportsman to learn from.”

Gerken made his league debut for the Blues in the 1-1 draw at Birmingham before the international break, did little wrong, and could do nothing about Chris Burke’s deflected effort that looped over him.

He is likely to keep his place, ahead of Scott Loach, between the sticks but insists his goalkeeping rival will be ready should he have to step back into the breach.

“It’s always frustrating not playing but you have got to be there for your team-mates and I have been there for Scott like he was for me (at Birmingham),” said Gerken.

“It’s swings and roundabouts but whoever plays will be fully prepared.

“Malcolm Webster (goalkeeping coach) does not let you off anything, he puts on brilliant sessions and can work on any aspect of your game with you.

“He was a big factor in me coming to Ipswich, having worked with him at Colchester, and he has got me in a position where I feel the sharpest I have for a number of years.”