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Manchester City likely to send Ireland goalkeeper Gavin Bazunu out on loan again

The teenager spent last season with Rochdale, and is set for another move ahead of next season.

Bazunu collects a cross against Andorra.
Bazunu collects a cross against Andorra.
Image: Bagu Blanco/INPHO

IRELAND’S TEENAGE GOALKEEPER Gavin Bazunu is likely to leave Manchester City on loan again next season, having spent last season at League One side Rochdale. 

Bazunu made 32 appearances for Rochdale last term, and the goalkeeper spoke of the value of the experience in spite of the season ending with relegation. 

“For me I feel like it was a hugely successful year and I got a lot of game time and experience”, said Bazunu ahead of tomorrow’s friendly game with Hungary. “That was the whole plan for the loan. It was a really difficult season but I feel that it couldn’t have been a better loan for myself as I got loads of exposure to first team football and I suppose that game time was what was able to get me into this squad so I’m very thankful for that.” 

City keep a watchful eye over Bazunu, with goalkeeper coach Xabi Mancisidor in constant contact, sharing clips, tips and advice a couple of times a week. It was initially planned that Bazunu would train with City once or twice a week while at Rochdale, but Covid protocols put paid to that idea. 

Bazunu envisages another loan spell next season, though doesn’t yet know where, and he didn’t rule out playing at a higher level in England or heading for Europe. 

“My plan would be that I would like to go out on loan and I’ve spoken to Xabi and he’s on the same page, so at the moment we’re just trying to get the ball rolling really. I’ve not really got too much information myself as to where I’ll be going. I suppose we’ll be planning that over the next couple of weeks

“The decision will probably between Xabi, Fergal [Harkin, Man City's Pathways manager] and my agent. And I have a lot of trust in them and I just let them work in the background and they come to me whenever they have had their meetings or when they have something on the table. I am open to going anywhere which will help aid my progression as a footballer.” 

His longer-term ambition is much clearer, however. 

“That’s 100 per cent my aim: I wouldn’t have gone to Manchester City unless I thought I could be the number one goalkeeper. Every day, that’s what I work towards. That’s the goal.”

Meanwhile, Bazunu says there has been no discussion with Stephen Kenny as to the pecking order at international level. With Darren Randolph injured, Bazunu took his chance in the March window, replacing Mark Travers for the qualifier defeat to Luxembourg. Randolph is out of this trip too – though Caoimhin Kelleher is included this time around having also been absent in March – but Bazunu kept his place for the win against Andorra on Thursday. 

“I’ve loved every moment of it. With every cap I’m getting, I’m growing a bit in confidence, I’m really feeling comfortable”, said Bazunu.

“It’s a great group of lads here, so they’ve all been brilliant welcoming me in and making me feel comfortable. I’ve been happy with the performances and it was great to get a win.” 

gavin-bazunu-makes-a-save Bazunu in action during his senior debut against Luxembourg. Source: Tommy Dickson/INPHO

Confidence is the trait most obvious during a 15-minute Zoom conversation with Bazunu,   and it was evident from the moment his senior international career began: in an empty Aviva Stadium, it was Bazunu’s voice that rang out by far the loudest. 

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“The first game against Luxembourg, I was just nervous before the game, but as soon as the whistle went to start the game, it was just like any other game and I just felt comfortable. I made sure to stick to my little keys that I have, just to be loud, to be brave, communicate and once I have those things, it just feels like any other game.

“I suppose most of it [being loud] comes from the fact I’ve been training at a first team level from such a young age. I was in training with the Shamrock Rovers first team from the age of 14 and would have trained with them through until I was 16 so being around the first team dressing room for that period gave me the confidence and understanding of how to speak to your teammates and what’s needed from a goalkeeper.

“You say what confidence I need to bark out orders, but at the same time I understand that the experienced players and the older players in the team want that from a goalkeeper whether you’re young or old. They just want to know that there’s someone behind them who has the confidence to be able tell them where to be and when to be there.” 

Shamrock Rovers remain close to Bazunu’s heart: he followed their title-winning campaign closely and travelled with the squad to the recent league game at Oriel Park against Dundalk. 

“I struggled a lot being away, I wasn’t able to get home at all really throughout the whole season, I still managed to watch all of the games on WatchLOI so I was delighted to go back and see all of the lads and see the manager and everything like that, because it’s still the team I support so I still enjoy being around them.”

 

Originally published at 0600 

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Gavin Cooney

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