Birmingham City may have had a good start to the 2021-22 campaign, but for one player it has been a summer of real struggle.
Having signed for the Blues in September 2020, Phillipines international goalkeeper Neil Etheridge played 43 times for the Midlands club last season and provided a steady hand in-between the sticks.
But earlier this summer Etheridge was struck down after contracting COVID-19, which left him hospitalised for a number of weeks.
Etheridge has been recovering at home since leaving hospital last month and but hasn’t been fit enough to return to training since, with Lee Bowyer drafting in Wolves stopper Matija Sarkic as the Filipino’s replacement for the time being.
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To the delight of everyone though, Etheridge has returned to to training with the club this week and he clearly looks to be on the mend and almost ready to return to action, but he will have a hard time displacing Sarkic who has kept three clean sheets in four league matches.
Following his training ground comeback, Etheridge penned a thankful message via Instagram and detailed how he is doing following the COVID diagnosis.
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It’s great to see Etheridge looking fit and healthy ahead of a potential return to Birmingham’s first team.
The 65-cap Phillipines international doesn’t seem to have lost a step and last season he was important to Birmingham’s late-season rally to stay in the Championship.
He has found his starting spot under threat though thanks to the good form of Sarkic, who didn’t do much to inspire fans in pre-season but since the beginning of the Championship campaign he’s been in fine fettle.
Even though he looks fit and well, Etheridge may have to wait a while to don the Blues jersey again but it will be comforting for Bowyer to know that he now doesn’t have just one good Championship goalkeeper to call upon – he has two.