YOUNG Doncaster Rovers keeper Jon Maxted has yet to make his starting debut for the club.
But he has been a regular on the bench this season when veteran keeper Neil Sullivan has either been injured or out on loan, as he is at the moment at AFC Wimbledon.
Despite his lack of experience at League One level, the 19 year-old, who was playing for the youth team this time last year, is confident that he would be able to step up to the plate if first-choice keeper Gary Woods were to be injured during a game.
“I feel that I would be alright coming on and that I would be able to do a job for the team,” he told The Star.
“The main difference this year is that I am full-time whereas when I was playing with the youth team I spent a lot of time in college.
“It means that I can spend more time working with goal-keeping coach Lee Butler and have more one-to-ones.”
The Tadcaster-born youngster joined the-then Centre of Excellence as a 15-year-old and came up through the junior ranks along with such as left-back James Husband, now a first-team regular.
Like Husband, who captained the team in Tuesday’s JP Trophy Northern Section quarter-final clash against Crewe at Gresty Road, Maxted says he has made rapid progress since becoming a full-time professional.
“Watching Gary train means that I pick up points that I can work on, and the same with Sully,” he said,
“They both pass tips on and tell me how I can do better and also tell me what I’m doing well at as does Butts, who has been very helpful.
“I would say that my kicking, which is a really important part of the game these days, is one of my strong points and I also feel that my talking is getting better.
“I also feel that I’m getting better at dealing with crosses as well. But obviously I’m still in my teens and I’ve still got a lot to learn.”
Maxted says it was like a dream come true when he started working alongside former Scottish international, Sullivan.
“Sully is the keeper who I always looked up to when I was younger; he was my hero, really,” he said.
“I always used to watch him both during his time at Doncaster and at other clubs before he came here, so it’s great working with him.
“His handling is unbelievable; he’s a good talker; he’s a great catcher of the ball and his kicking is also good so he is a good all-rounder and he’s still playing well in his early 40s.
“When I first started working with him in the summer I was a bit in awe of him and I couldn’t believe it.
“I know sometimes in life when people meet their hero that they can be disappointed, but Sully has lived up to my expectations.
“I know that I am having to fill his big boots on the bench while he is at Wimbledon (getting some games under his belt) but, as I say, I’m fine about having to go on and do a job if I’m needed.”
Like all keepers Maxted knows that patience is a virtue.
“There is only one keeper in a team and as a general rule they tend to get injured less than outfield players and you have to wait your turn,” he said. “But when your chance comes you’ve got to grasp it.
“I’d like to try and emulate Sully and play until I’m 42, but to do that to look after your body and also be lucky with injuries.”
Maxted came to manager Dean Saunders attention playing in last season’s youth team.
“I played in Alliance Cup final when we beat Exeter 4-0 down there, and I also played against Chelsea in the FA Youth Cup,” he said.
“Both were good games in terms of experience. There were over 1,500 people at the final and some of the Chelsea team have been out on loan at Championship clubs this season.
The success of last season’s youth team saw half-a-dozen youngsters offered one year contracts.
“The fact that so many of last year’s youth team are still here helped me settle in quicker,” he said. “Had I been the only one I’d probably have been more nervous.
“But the likes of Jordan Ball, Liam Wakefield are here and we all support each other and we do stuff like going to the gym together.
“It doesn’t surprise me how well the club has done this season and we’ve a real chance of being promoted. We just need to remain strong and keep the belief that we can do it.”
Rovers go into tomorrow’s game on the back of successive defeats.
“We were obviously disappointed to lose in the FA Cup at Oldham on Saturday, but it just shows that you have to be on your game every week if you hope to win. Swindon will be tough but I think we can go there and beat them,” he said.