HIGHLY RATED goalkeeper, Nathan Gartside was handed a two year extension to his current Derry City contract and Declan Devine expects the former Watford man to challenge Peter Cherrie for the club’s No.1 stop in 2020.
The 21 year-old Maydown man was very much seen as one for the future when he joined the club on a long term deal on August 2018. And Devine has now rewarded him for his professionalism and ability with a deal which will keep him at the club until at least the end of the 2022 campaign.
He played second fiddle to experienced stopper. Peter Cherrie last season and has made just six appearances for the senior team since his arrival.
Gartside, who joined Watford as a 16 year-old, produced several eye-catching displays for Derry during the 2019 season, earning him a call-up to the Northern Ireland U21 side.
Having made his debut in a 0-0 draw with Romania at the Ballymena Showgrounds last month, Gartside is hoping he can keep his place in Ian Baraclough’s team and play a bigger part in Devine’s plans next year.
“It’s been a great few weeks but I’ve got to turn a good few weeks into months and then years and make a career out of it,” said the keeper. “But I’ve enjoyed it but the hard work starts again in pre-season. That was nice to receive a call-up at the end of the season and it was good for my confidence getting the man of the match award for my performance.
“It’s a bonus for doing well during the season so that’s the incentive. I want to stay in there and to do that you’ve got to continue to work hard as possible. I’ve secured my long term future here so that’s fantastic for me.”
And City boss, Devine is in no doubt Gartside can challenge Cherrie for a starting berth next season.
“I think Nathan and Peter Cherrie are going to fight it out to be No.1 this year,” said the former Ipswich youth and City keeper.
“Nathan’s application over the last 10 months has probably been the best at the club. The way he trains and conducts himself, his work in the off season with the strength and conditioning guys here and his ability and drive to do better.
"We’re fortunate we have a goalkeeper of 35 years of age who has been about the league and a goalkeeper who is coming through at 21 years of age and who will be involved in professional football for a long, long time.”
Gartside survived two major health scares due to a condition called myocarditis, an inflammation of the heart muscle. However, he’s fighting fit and determined to fulfil his potential in the game.
And he believes working alongside league stalwart, Cherrie can only improve his chances.
“It’s the hunger you need. You strive to make each other better. “
His (Cherrie’s) experience will be invaluable for me and I’ve got to learn as much as I can from him.
“It’s been good for the club to get Peter back and competition will be key next season. Competition is key for everyone and it’s great myself and Peter are here again next year. It means we can push each other hard.
“Last year I played a few games so hopefully this year I play a bit more but you’ve got to work hard and earn it. I’ve got to earn the right to play as everyone else does. “
Pete was fantastic for both the club and for me last year in helping me as a player, His experience is invaluable. He’s a league winner, cup winner and those are the type of players you need.
“As an individual I’ve got to just do the best I can. Hopefully I can make a good impression in pre-season.”