Competition for places ‘really exciting’ for Ireland goalkeeper Mark Travers

Serbia v Republic of Ireland – FIFA World Cup 2022 – European Qualifying – Group D – Rajko Mitic Stadium
(Image credit: Novak Djurovic)

Mark Travers is determined to play his part in what promises to be a golden age for Republic of Ireland goalkeepers.

The 22-year-old Bournemouth player is one member of a triumvirate of men fighting it out for the number one shirt for their country along with Liverpool’s Carabao Cup winner Caoimhin Kelleher and present incumbent Gavin Bazunu, on loan at Portsmouth from Manchester City.

Travers was the first of the three to make his senior international debut and while he is currently having to remain patient, he is relishing the competition and camaraderie provided by 23-year-old Kelleher and Bazunu, 20.

Asked ahead of Saturday’s friendly with Belgium at the Aviva Stadium if it was annoying to hear all the talk about his team-mates, he said: “No. It’s great for all of us.

“We have known about each other through the younger age groups and then to be in this position at this young age is a great honour and a really exciting time for Irish goalkeeping.

“You can’t really be annoyed about it. You’ve got to take it in your stride and learn from each other, and whoever plays you have to support.

“The competition is really strong, but I just have to come in here and do the best that I can and you will always be confident in your own ability. That’s all I can do.”

Travers has 36 appearances to his name for the Cherries this season and has kept 14 clean sheets in a Sky Bet Championship campaign which has left his club in prime position to secure automatic promotion with 10 games remaining.

However, Bazunu remains the man in possession with Ireland and Kelleher enhanced his reputation with his penalty shoot-out heroics – he scored the winning spot-kick – in Liverpool’s dramatic League Cup final victory over Chelsea last month.

Travers said: “It’s a great moment for him in his career. To win a cup at his age for such a big club like Liverpool is a massive achievement and something he should be proud of.”

Travers made his first competitive start for his country at the age of 21 in a World Cup qualifier in Serbia in March last year, ending up on the wrong end of a 3-2 scoreline as Aleksandar Mitrovic came off the bench to snatch victory with a late double, the first of them from distance as he caught the keeper off his line.

He said: “It was a disappointing result and an experience that I will always learn from. Since that game, I have tried to put it to the back of my head and get in at club level – which I have – and hopefully I can get another chance to prove myself at international level again.”

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