Nathan Gartside ready to be Derry City's number one
Goalkeeper Nathan Gartside is relishing the challenge of becoming Derry City's new number one.
After sitting on the bench behind both Gerard Doherty and Peter Cherrie for a number of years, the 22-year-old feels he's now ready for the rigours of senior football.
“Playing senior football is where you always want to play," he insisted. "Yes it’s OK playing in U23 and reserve games, which I did in England, but being here now, which will be my third full season.
"Yeah it’s going to be a learning curve, but I’m excited for it and I can’t wait to get started.
“I know playing senior football on a regular basis is going to be tough, but it’s what you are in football to do and if you can’t handle training regularly and two games a week, then sport isn’t for you ultimately, but as I said I’m excited to get as many games as possible.
“I’m also excited to keep clean-sheets and do as well as I can for the team and hopefully we can get back up the league table this year and get a place in Europe."
The former Watford net-minder like every player at this stage of the season can't wait for things to finally get underway at Longford Town, this Saturday and he wants the Candy Stripes to be at the right end of the table in 2021.
“I think we are all excited and we just can’t wait to get started," he added.
"Obviously we had a disappointing year last year but for me personally I can’t wait to get as many games as possible, help the team keep clean-sheets and help the team get further up the league.
“The boys have come back in some nick this year if I’m being honest we are all looking forward to getting going at Longford and getting the games underway.
"Yes pre-season has been a tough one but it always is as you have got to get the minds and legs working hard.
“As a group we are very close and we are like a wee family here so everyone knows what it’s like to play senior football, so we are going to get the Brandywell rocking again this season, whenever fans are allowed back in."
Despite going into his third full season, the ex-Institute keeper knows this year's group of players are a young energetic squad but laughs at suggestions that he's one of the elder statesman in the squad and like everyone can't wait to see the Brandywell back to full capacity and rocking with fans back in the ground.
"Toaly and Coley have been here longer than me, but jokes aside ultimately while we have a young group, that doesn’t take away the fact that we are all hungry and want to do as well as possible," he said.
“Everyone here knows what the Brandywell is like on a full night, obviously it hasn’t experienced that in a while and it might not be for another while yet, but regardless we have to do everything we can to get into those European spots and up the table doing well, so whenever the fans are allowed back in, I can’t see why it can’t be a full house every week and get this place pumping again."
After scoring against Finn Harps during pre-season, Gartside admits that front men David Parkhouse, James Akintunde and Patrick Ferry don't need to worry about him looking to switch positions any time soon.
“Let's be honest my job is keeping clean-sheets, it was a freak goal, which was my first of my career and even though it was a friendly, I’m still claiming it," he admitted.
"But I’ll be looking to keep clean-sheets this season and keeping the team tight, especially the back-line, as that’s the most important thing for me."