FA Cup fillip for keeper
ANDY Lonergan aims to repay Everton for keeping his career on track by knocking them out of the FA Cup this weekend.
Wanderers’ cup-specialist goalkeeper was the hero against Sunderland in the last round, ensuring a replay with a string of superb saves at the Reebok.
He looks set to replace Adam Bogdan once again in goal for tomorrow’s fourth-round duel with the Toffees – but could easily have been turning out for David Moyes, who helped resurrect his career two years ago after a bust-up at Preston North End.
Lonergan was effectively put up for sale at Deepdale in 2011 and spent three days a week training with Tim Howard and Co to try to earn a deal.
Although it was reported at the time that Moyes could not raise the £750,000 fee – the 29-year-old has revealed it was the offer of more regular first-team football at Leeds United that prompted him to cross the Pennines.
“I had a good time training at Everton after I fell out with Preston,” he said. “I wanted to go but nothing could be sorted.
“Just the opportunity to go to a Premier League club would have been great even though they had Tim Howard and Jan Mucha, who was an international.
“It would have been tough competition but a move was flattering and appealing at the time.
“I hadn’t played at Preston for the last four months so it was great to train with Everton, knowing I could hold my own.”
Lonergan arrived at the Reebok in the summer after a short stint at Elland Road but has so far found his path to regular football blocked by Adam Bogdan.
A lack of games is a source of frustration to the Lancastrian stopper but his performances in the competition so far have done his cause no harm whatsoever.
Now Lonergan wants to shut out his former training mates in his latest audition, even though he would trade a place in the fifth round for points in the Championship table.
“To win the cup is going to take something special,” he said. “But maybe had that draw and a win against Sunderland been four points in the league we probably would have taken that instead.
“The league is the most important thing but the cup is a good distraction at the moment. And for players like myself, Josh Vela and Joe Riley who haven’t played much, it’s a good game for us.”
Lonergan also shares something in common with his opposite number Howard.
While Everton’s American keeper famously beat Bogdan from 90 yards with a wind-assisted effort at Goodison Park last year, Lonergan’s own scoring exploits are slightly less known.
“I have spoken about that goal with Shaggy (Bogdan) because I scored for Preston against Leicester with a half-volley,” Lonergan recalled. “I hit it on the half-volley and it went the full length of the field and bounced over the keeper’s head.
“You don’t mean it which was probably the same with Tim. I think there was a gale force wind at Goodison that night and Shaggy wouldn’t have saved it if he had been stood on his line.”
Lonergan predicts a difficult afternoon against Moyes’s Champions League-chasing side, and in particular, bean-pole front man Marouane Fellaini.
“They are a fantastic team and I think we will be under the cosh,” he said. “I wouldn’t say they were direct, but they just play to their strengths. If you have got someone six-feet five inches tall who wins every header like him, you have got to cross the ball to him. That’s what they do.
“They have got some great players and they are a great team.”