AFTER fighting hard and long to make himself known as the Reebok’s number one, Andy Lonergan finds himself at another crucial juncture in his Wanderers career this weekend.
Few begrudged the Whites keeper his chance back in October, which came about as a result of Adam Bogdan picking up a knee injury in training.
It had been a long spell for Lonergan in the Hungarian’s shadow since his last run in the first team – and the 30-year-old initially seized his chance with both hands, becoming a rare beacon of consistency in Dougie Freedman’s squad.
As Bogdan approached fitness there was plenty speculation that, just as he did last season, Lonergan would make way and return to the bench.
But on the eve of the trip to Reading, Dougie Freedman backed his man and pronounced Lonergan his first choice – a decision that now seems to have triggered a catalogue of misfortune.
Even though Wanderers shipped seven goals in what has become known as the Madejski Massacre, the Lancastrian keeper was spared much of the blame; in fact, it was only his late save from Nick Blackman that prevented an all-time record league defeat.
Lonergan described the result as his “worst moment in football” and mistakes in the two games since suggest that it could still be playing on his mind.
The former Leeds United man made a handling error to gift Cardiff’s Frazier Campbell a winner in the FA Cup then suffered what his manager described as a “rush of blood” in conceding a second-half penalty against Ipswich the following week.
Freedman refused to lay blame at Lonergan’s door.
"Andy Lonergan has been fantastic for us and we have no blame culture at this football club,” he said after the 1-0 defeat.
With Bogdan back fit, there has been speculation among the club’s fans that he could be given another go in this weekend’s crucial home game with Bournemouth.
It is likely to be 90 minutes to test the strongest character for those in a Wanderers shirt and Lonergan certainly has the advantage in terms of experience.
While the boss backed Lonergan publicly, he also sent out a warning that the individual errors which have proved so costly in the last few weeks would not be tolerated much longer.
Bogdan told the Hungarian press yesterday that he is feeling fit after his knee problem and now targeting a place in a side he feels is fighting a relegation battle.
“It seems we won’t be able to reach the goal of promotion that we set,” he said.
“We’re fighting against relegation, and I hope we’ll win and start going higher.
“I’ve got another year on my contract from the summer.
“At the moment I’m not playing in the team, but that is a situation I’d like to change as soon as possible.
“I will soon make a decision on my future.”