What is the point of a third goalkeeper?

By Andy Walker on Apr 27, 10 02:52 PM in Comment

At the start of the season, my Aston Villa-following colleague Mat Kendrick compared third goalkeepers to a third nipple.

It was a bizarre and controversial opinion, but one that I agreed with then and even more so now.

Seriously, what is the point of a third goalkeeper? Of course, I understand that they are there in case goalie number one and two get injured. Clubs sometimes go through a rotten spell of luck so it's perfectly plausible that number threes will get called into action every now and then.

But if Premier League clubs only belittle, disrespect and undermine their third-choice keeper when he is called upon, what is the point?

For example, from the moment Ross Turnbull and now Gunnar Nielsen were asked to pull on the gloves for injury-hit Chelsea and Manchester City respectively, the understudies were instantly classed as blunderstudies.

True, both Chelsea and City are aiming high this season and need the best between the sticks. But if they never considered Turnbull, Nielsen or whoever to be trustworthy in the Premier League then why have them registered in the first-team squad in the first place.

In Nielsen's case, the poor lad's confidence must be shattered before his Premier League dream has even got going. The Faroe Islands international keeping of a clean sheet during his 14 minutes of action at the Emirates on Saturday was enough to convince Manchester City that they were doomed and a replacement was desperately needed.

Instead they've come crawling back to Birmingham City for a goalkeeper that they've largely ignored all season.