Keeper Marcus Dewhurst started his second half-season loan spell with the Blues in August, having spent the second period of the last campaign [pre-lockdown] in the United ranks, having joined from Sheffield United during the January transfer window.
The England under-17 and 18 international returned to Cumbria eager to impress, having learned that he’d been close to making a first team start before football was forced to close due to the Covid-19 outbreak.
“It’s great to be here again,” he said. “I was here for the remainder of last season, which unfortunately got cut short due to Covid, which was a bit disappointing seeing as how I didn’t play.
“I think I was maybe down to play the final game so that was maybe a bit frustrating, but that’s football. It was gutting to miss out on it, to be fair.
“When I read that he was going to play me I was a bit disappointed, but there was nothing anyone could have done. It’s just what happened with the virus. It’s football, it happens, you just have to move on.”
On joining the Cumbrians for a second loan spell, he commented: “I had no hesitation when I was asked – straight away I said I’d like to come back.
“I enjoyed my time while I was here even though I was disappointed not to play. The staff are great, the lads are great, we’d had fun in training and the gaffer had been great with me, and so had Steve Collis. I really enjoyed it last season and wanted to come back.
“It all happened really quickly in the end. In football it can go from nothing … there were times when I wasn’t hearing anything and thought maybe I’d have to play with the under-23s a bit first, and then get a loan move.
“It was just while we were in Edinburgh with the first team that I got a call saying they wanted to sign me back on loan. I got in the car and within 15 minutes I was off.
“It was good to be with the first team with Sheff United, that’s where I want to be pushing, eventually I want to be Sheffield United’s number one and England’s number one. To do that I have to play well on my loans, when I get a chance train well with the first team, and impress the gaffer there.”
With that in mind, we wondered how much he’d learned through his time with us last season.
“I had to really knuckle down, work hard and I thought I was pushing every day, I was itching to get on,” he told us. “It’s not the same with a goalkeeper – when you’re an outfielder you can have a spell in the last five minutes or so to get a run-out.
“With goalkeepers it’s a lot different. You can’t really affect the game when you’re not on the pitch; when you’re an attacker you can come on and score a last-minute goal having played two minutes. As a keeper you ned to play a full 90 minutes, and when you get that chance take it with both hands.
“Whenever I’m called upon I’ll definitely try to do that. I’m training hard every day to be ready for whenever I get the chance, whenever it may be. I’ve just got to keep training, keep working, not get bogged down when I’m not playing, keep pushing whether it be Paul [Farman] or Magnus [Norman].”
And on his own confidence levels, having heard both the manager and the keeper coach talk about him being ready, should the need arise, he said: “I’m only 19, early stages of my career, but I still feel like I can play in League Two, even though I’m young.
“Keepers like Jordan Pickford, Dean Henderson, they did it. I’ve had a similar start to my career as they have with their loans, I’m at a similar stage now. If I want to be pushing them for their No1 spot with England, I’ve got to prove myself here, so hopefully I’ll get the chance.
“You’re not guaranteed a spot, so to be pushing Paul for his shirt at the minute, that’s going to be a challenge - and it’s a challenge I’m willing to take, and I’m enjoying it as well. I’m more than confident that if I got the spot I could cement it down.
“I wouldn’t say Paul’s at the other end of his career, he can easily have seven or eight years left, but he’s had over 10 years more experience. I’ll always learn from him, but at the same time it’s not something I’d have against me.
“In terms of experience, I have played quite a lot of games in non-league, it’s something like 46 to 50 games. I’m nowhere near as experienced as Paul, but anything I can take from him to improve my game I definitely will do.”
Those loan spells with Gainsborough and Guiseley proved to be an excellent way of speeding up his development as, even at such a tender age, he found himself as the last line of defence.
“It was great,” he told us. “I had to mature and grow up really quickly, because I was playing under-18 and under-23 football with Sheffield, and all of a sudden Guiseley wanted me in Conference North, which is a decent standard of football.
“Being 17 it was, not daunting at first but definitely I had to grow up, which I think I did do. I think I’ve proved that even though I was young I could handle it in front of crowds, like when York City played us and there were 3,500 people there on New Year’s Day.
“You have fans hurling abuse, but I took it in my stride and really enjoyed it. Obviously there was England as well. It’s great to be involved with that set-up at any age. Playing with high-calibre players, I went from playing Sunday league to playing for England in about one-and-a-half to two years!
“It was a massive step up, but I’ve enjoyed every step of the way and it’s an honour any time I get picked. I want to carry that on, train with them, cement my No1 spot in the under-20s and next year under-21s, and then a year or two, maybe three years after that, I want to be pushing for the first team.”
Two keepers who have taken that exact route, and who are well known to Carlisle fans, are Dean Henderson (currently pushing for the England shirt) and Jordan Pickford (currently wearing it).
“They’re two keepers I look up to,” he revealed. “Obviously having trained with Hendo, he’s told me all about his experiences, and Jordan was here at Carlisle.
“They’re two keepers I really look up to and I want that similar path. The best thing you can do as a young keeper is play as much as you can at as high a standard as you can, to test yourself.
“I’ve worked with Deano and he’s really confident in himself. That definitely spreads throughout the team. He’s that confident, the defence aren’t going to have any questions about whether he’s nervous or anything.
“He never shows it. He’s 100 per cent confident in his ability. No doubt he’ll be pushing for Pickford’s spot. When he first came to Sheff United he was 21, 22, and that was young to be playing in the Championship.
“He’s got that, stick your shoulders out, get your chin up and show what you’re all about attitude, which is what he did.”
And speaking about confidence, he also confirmed that the attitude shown towards him by the manager and his coach, Steve Collis, has left him looking forward to the challenge ahead.
“It’s good working with Steve, I really enjoy his training,” he said. “We have a good laugh, and with him having playing experience, any experience he has, I’m always doing extras after training, he’s always willing to help me.
“Knowing that him and the gaffer think highly of me gives me a boost of confidence to go out and train. I enjoy training as well, that’s when you train your best, when you enjoy playing football.
“It’s just a good place to be. They’ve brought in some really good players from what I’ve seen in training, they’ve been great with me since I’ve joined again. Training’s been class and the boys have been really good with me, the new ones and the old ones have welcomed me back in.
“Everyone has gelled together early doors. No doubt performances and results will turn around and we’ll get a few wins. The pitch looks great and whenever I get the chance I can’t wait to play here, it’s a big stadium and when the fans can come back here it will be great.”
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