5 Premier League keepers happy to warm the bench

By Tom Bodell, Football Whispers

Sergio Romero is a patient man. The Argentine keeper has been David de Gea’s understudy at Manchester United for two seasons and, on Sunday, signed up for another four years as deputy to the Spaniard.

Clearly he is playing the long game, hoping the Real Madrid transfer target finally moves to the Bernabeu. That or he is quite content getting run-outs in cup competitions and letting de Gea take the serious business of the Premier League.

However, it didn’t work out too badly for the 30-year-old last season as he clocked up 18 appearances – two in the league – and kept goal as the Red Devils won the Europa League.

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But Romero is hardly the first keeper to be satisfied with the role of No.2. Our friends at Football Whispers have come up with five more stoppers who were quite happy on the substitutes’ bench.

Costel Pantilimon (Manchester City, Sunderland, Watford)

The 6ft 8in Romanian has made a healthy Premier League living from not playing regularly after moving to England from FC Timisoara in 2010.

Pantilimon spent his first season at Manchester City on loan and did enough – playing just five cup games – to earn a permanent switch. But he had to wait until his fourth and final season to make his Premier League debut.

Brought into the City side by Manuel Pellegrini to replace the dropped Joe Hart, Pantilimon made seven starts before joining Sunderland ahead of the 2014/15 campaign.

He made 45 appearances in two season but lost his place at the Stadium of Light to Jordan Pickford and joined Watford on a free transfer in January 2016. He is now backup to Heurelho Gomes at Vicarage Road and is yet to start a Premier League match.

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Willy Caballero seems to be happy on the bench
Willy Caballero seems to be happy on the bench

Willy Caballero (Manchester City, Chelsea)

Another man who failed to dislodge Hart for any length of time was Cabellero. The Argentine stopper cost City £6million when he joined from Malaga in 2014 but made just 21 Premier League starts in three seasons.

Sixteen of those appearances came last term as Pep Guardiola agonised over whether to select summer signing Claudio Bravo in spite of his dreadful form. Eventually the Spaniard lost faith in the former Barcelona keeper and Caballero had a run in the side.

But the 35-year-old was never a long-term solution and, despite making a decent fist of standing in for the hapless Bravo, was released at the end of the campaign.

However, Chelsea, having lost Asmir Begovic to Bournemouth, were waiting in the wings to offer the former Elche stopper a new gig providing back-up to Thibaut Courtois.

Asmir Begovic (Chelsea)

It might be considered a touch harsh to include the Bosnian stopper on this list given Chelsea is the only club where Begovic has found himself warming the bench regularly.

However, the 30-year-old knew exactly what he was getting into when he moved from Stoke – where he had been No.1 for five seasons – to Stamford Bridge in 2015.

Blues legend Petr Cech had been dropped in favour of Courtois and Chelsea were only ever on the look-out for more bench fodder. In fairness, Begovic played 17 times in his first campaign at the club owing to injury issues with Courtois.

But once the Belgian regained form and fitness it was back to bench duty and the former Portsmouth stopper made just two top-flight starts last season. He nearly left in January but completed a getaway this summer, returning to Bournemouth ten years after a loan spell there.

Boaz Myhill (West Bromwich Albion)

Six years at The Hawthorns have brought Myhill 62 league appearances for the Baggies and just 80 games in all competitions. The Welsh international, who retired from international duty in 2014 after finding himself as Wayne Hennessey’s understudy, joined Albion from Hull City in 2010.

After making just six league appearances in his first season with West Brom, Myhill moved on loan to Birmingham City as former Manchester United stopper Ben Foster headed in the opposite direction.

And it was the arrival of Foster at The Hawthorns which did for Myhill’s chances. The England international quickly established himself as West Brom’s undisputed first choice.

Myhill has had to contend with scraps since; the 23 Premier League starts he made in Foster’s absence during the 2015/16 campaign by far his best return.

Michel Vorm (Tottenham Hotspur)

Signed as part of the deal which saw Ben Davies trade Swansea for Spurs in 2014, Vorm arrived at White Hart Lane with Hugo Lloris already firmly established as Tottenham’s first-choice keeper.

The Dutchman, who has 15 full caps for the Netherlands, has failed to dislodge Lloris since and been limited to just ten Premier League appearances in three seasons.

Clearly too good to be getting splinters in his behind, the 33-year-old has shown little sign of discontent, though, and appears to be perfectly happy pushing the French captain for the No.1 jersey.

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