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22WINTER 2010The summer of 2009/10 was a painful one for many of the 'keepers plying their trade in The Football League, as lists published by the PFA revealed a record 60 goalkeepers were available on a free transfer come the close of the transfer window.moveOn theWith so many players available for transfer the market was in dire need of a dynamic and prolonged period of trading, but what materialised was nothing more than a damp squib leaving many keepers fighting for their livelihoods. As the transfer window came to a stuttering close at the end of August, distinguished professionals such as Richard Wright,Tony Warner and Lenny Pidgeley were still not fixed up and many others had been forced to accept short term offers and trial periods to secure a wage.At the other end of the spectrum, and remarkable as much for being the only significant transfer of the entire window in cash terms, Ben Foster sought to resurrect his career via an exit from Old Trafford and a £6million transfer to Birmingham City-the very club that had done so much to bring Joe Hart's form to the spotlight the previous season, and which has seen him grasp the number 1 shirt at Eastlands from Shay Given.Elsewhere in the Premier League, the focus fell sharply on the need to recruit able understudies for established goalkeepers. Everton announced the arrival of Slovakian World Cup stopper Jan Mucha from Legia Warsaw, paving the way for John Ruddy to join newly promoted Norwich City in a £300,000 move . Steve Bruce's Sunderland recruited promising Belgian Simon Mignolet from St Truidense as cover for Craig Gordon who suffered a recurrence of the arm injury that had caused him to miss spells last season. With Gordon's absence from the opening fixtures seemingly inevitable, Bruce was linked with a swoop for David James on a short term basis but opted to show faith in Mignolet, and this has been rewarded with some mature early season performances. The Belgian's arrival also allowed Sunderland to cash in on wantaway keeper Martin Fulop who was allowed to join former boss Roy Keane at Ipswich Town for an undisclosed fee.The most controversial transfer saga centred around Stoke's Asmir Begovic who was sought after by Chelsea and the subject of a £4 million plus bid, which was rejected by Stoke amid accusations that Begovic had refused to play a Carling Cup tie against Shrewsbury. Stoke had earlier in the summer allowed Steve Simonsen to join Sheffield United and had replaced him with Carlo Nash, joining from Everton. In a similar move between Premier league outfits, Bolton allowed Ali Al-Habsi to join North West rivals Wigan Athletic on loan for the season, whilst West Bromwich Albion capitalised on Hull City's relegation and financial problems to swoop for Wales international Boaz Myhill in a deal worth £1million.Elsewhere, West Ham's search for a back-up to England keeper Robert Green had seen failed attempts to recruit Tony Warner, Chris Weale from Leicester City, and various trialists including Algerian World Cup stopper Rais M'Bolhi. West Ham eventually made Hungarian youngster Peter Kurucz's loan deal permanent, and on deadline day completed the signing of Belgian Ruud Boffin from Dutch side MVV Maastricht.Simon Mignolet - Photo courtesy of Sunderland FC

WINTER 201023Across London, Fulham were not so fortunate as a deadline day bid for Crystal Palace 'Player of the Season' Julian Speroni, a summer target of Glasgow Celtic, failed to materialise.Tottenham Hotspur were successful with a work permit application for Croatian International keeper Stipe Pletikosa who had nearly joined the same club in the January window and had almost joined Fulham a year earlier. Pletikosa's arrival allowed Spurs to loan youngsters David Button to Plymouth Argyle and Oscar Jansson to Northampton Town.As the window closed another World Cup keeper found his way into the Premier League, as Ghana's Richard Kingson returned to England by hooking up with Ian Holloway's newly promoted Blackpool following a calf injury to former Manchester United keeper Paul Rachubka. Another former United keeper Tom Heaton was snapped up on a permanent basis by Blackpool's defeated Play-Off finalists, Cardiff City - one of the many clubs Heaton had enjoyed successful loan spells with previously (see feature on page 26).The 'marquee' signing in the Championship was the unexpected arrival of England's David James at Bristol City, following his exploits in South Africa. James opted for a longer term option at Ashton Gate ahead of short term proposals from other Premier League clubs and Glasgow Celtic. In cash terms however, the most significant outlay was the circa £2million spent by relegated Burnley to reunite Lee Grant with Brian Laws, his former manager at Sheffield Wednesday. This transfer also facilitated the move in the opposite direction of Nicky Weaver, who joined Wednesday, the team he supported as a boy. In another shock move from Sheffield, United stalwart Paddy Kenny left the Blades to be reunited with Neil Warnock in a £750,000 switch to Queens Park Rangers, who had earlier in the summer been courting Palace's Julian Speroni. Richard Wright, who had been training with Crystal Palace, joined the Blades in September as one of Gary Speed's first signings as manager, to fill the void created by Ian Bennett's short hop across Yorkshire to Huddersfield Town.Having failed to agree terms with Darryl Flahavan, who signed for Portsmouth on a short term basis as competition for Jamie Ashdown, Crystal Palace opted to recruit ex Ipswich and Derby stopper Lewis Price and former Fulham and England Under-19 keeper Wesley Foderingham, both on 2 year contracts. The latter was immediately snapped up by Bromley FC on a season's loan.With uncertainty over the future of David Lonergan, a summer target of West Bromwich Albion, Preston brought in Greek stopper Andreas Arestidou on a 1 year deal following a trial period.Newly promoted Leeds United snapped up League 2 Keeper of the season Kasper Schmeichel from Notts County, who despite their promotion to League 1, could not afford to hold on to their star performer. Schmeichel's arrival saw the departure of Casper Ankergen to Brighton, and Alan Martin to Barrow on loan, whilst Notts County also released veteran stopper Russell Hoult. The magpies filled the 'keeping vacuum with former Aberdeen goalkeeper Stuart Nelson and Lincoln's former Spurs 'keeper Rob Burch. Injuries to Schmeichel early in the season saw the Yorkshire outfit turn to Blackburn Rovers' Welsh international Jason Brown on an initial month's loan, which has subsequently been extended, and by recruiting former Fulham and Hull City keeper Tony Warner on a 3 month contract. Warner had been training with Liverpool having rejected longer term offers from Championship and SPL clubs during the summer window.Kenny Jackett reinforced his goalkeeping options by recruiting Steve Mildenhall from Southend United, whilst Richard Lee opted to reject a contract and leave Watford after 17 years' service for regular football at Brentford, and he was replaced at Vicarage Road by Walsall's Rene Gilmartin. Lee's arrival at Griffin Park saw the departure of Nikki Bull to Wycombe. Bristol Rovers remarkably released 4 (f-o-u-r !) goalkeepers, with Steve Phillips joining Crewe, Rhys Evans ending up at Southend United , 21 year old Mike Green signed a season long loan with at Blue Square North outfit Rene Gilmartin - Photo courtesy of Alan Cozzi / Watford FCJulian Speroni - Photo courtesy of Crystal Palace FC