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Naming the top goalkeepers in any league is so subjective and will always cause a row somewhere!
Karl Darlow of Newcastle did well last season but in the end he wasn’t even the first choice for his own side, while I believe the promotion campaign at Brighton rather exaggerated the performances of David Stockdale who now finds himself in danger of relegation with Birmingham.
Keiren Westwood and Scott Carson have also been consistent but unspectacular, which leaves me with the three below, who I believe have been the best in the business at this level over the last twelve months:
It’s been said on these pages again and again; John Ruddy is one of the most underrated goalkeepers in the Championship and maybe even in England. Having been outstanding at times for Norwich City, Ruddy got a move to the new second tier superpower Wolverhampton Wanderers in the summer and carried on the good work.
Despite the presence of Portuguese speakers like Neves, Cavaleiro, Jota and Bonatini, it’s players like Ruddy who are the last line of defence and get on with their game with the minimum of fuss. The former Everton man has 13 shutouts this season in 24 Championship appearances and deserves his place in this list.
The on-loan Manchester United stopper looks every inch a Premier League player at Villa Park and time will tell where he plays his top-level football in the near future. For now, he’s plying his trade in the Championship and over the course of this calendar year, he has shown himself to be one of the best ‘keepers around, but most importantly the one who is improving more than most.
Villa had a poor season last time around but their defensive record was good and a lot of the credit for that goes to this man. 9 clean sheets this season is just a simple stat and doesn’t really do him enough justice. Watch out for him at the top level very soon.
29 years of age is not old for a goalkeeper and I think that’s the key point here. Back around 2008, Fielding was another “next big thing” in English football and had played 12 times for the country’s under-21 side. It never quite happened for Fielding though in the top division, despite the big reputation and he ended up moving from Blackburn 7 times on loan before finally signing permanently for Derby County in 2011.
Still not settled, he moved to Bristol City and found his feet and now has performed brilliantly over the last couple of seasons at Ashton Gate. Given that he plays behind a very open, freestyle side which welcomes the opposition to have a pop, I’d say his performances top anything else and rates the best in this division right now. He can yet be a fixture in the Premier League.