Bogdan must lay foundation for Whites climb
IF Wanderers are to solve their away daze before the New Year, a lot could rest in the hands of keeper Adam Bogdan.
Though Dougie Freedman still appears to be weighing up his options in several positions as he heads towards the next transfer window, he has no such luxury in the goalkeeping slot.
Andy Lonergan’s knee injury means the Whites boss will be without a senior option for the next few weeks at least - and though untested youngsters Jay Lynch and Rob Lainton are highly thought of around Euxton, their first team chances are more likely to come further down the line.
Bogdan is out there alone for the number one jersey - but with that assurance also comes a greater pressure to perform.
And so Freedman may have had some concern at the nerves his sole survivor seemed to show at the Reebok as Wanderers toiled to earn a point against Barnsley last Saturday.
While his shot stopping remained first class, the normally unflappable Bogdan made a few spills that have been quite out of character since he emerged on to the scene.
There will be no room for jitters between now and New Year’s Day, as Wanderers face five stiff tests on their travels to reignite their faltering season.
The Whites are currently on an unwanted run of 26 away league games without a clean sheet.
There is still some way to go before eclipsing the massive 47 games that Wanderers went without a clean sheet on their travels at the turn of the century.
But as defensive resolve seems the order of the day under Freedman since he took charge, the new Whites boss will hope that Bogdan can rediscover the top form he has shown only in flashes this season, most notably in the recent stalemate at home to Leicester City.
In what has been a bittersweet 12 months for the Budapest-born stopper, to regain the mature confidence that marked his arrival in the team back in January is the latest in a string of personal challenges.
Bogdan’s first game of 2012 saw him beaten by a freakish wind-assisted goal from Tim Howard at Everton but no sooner had the headlines cleared up as he was keeping his side in the FA Cup with a heroic last-gasp save at Macclesfield Town.
Three clean sheets in his first 10 appearances of the calendar year went a large way to doing something long-since considered impossible – usurping Jussi Jaaskelainen as first-choice keeper.
A player of the year award followed, albeit in sad circumstances as the club were relegated from the Premier League, but by his own admission, Bogdan has since struggled to match his own high standards.
Speaking after his recent star show against Leicester, which was the last of his four clean sheets for club and country this season, Bogdan said: “I haven’t had too many good games because we have conceded goals.
“We have to develop good habits and get our body in the way of things. That’s how you keep clean sheets.
“It is like a domino effect – if a few players do it, everyone follows. It’s a team effort.”
Wanderers will hope Bogdan can finish the year like he started it – and that those good habits will come from the back.