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Mannus hopes he'll keep place in Worthy's squad

CIS Insurance Cup

By Stuart McKinley

Published 24/08/2007

Alan Mannus believes that he has improved as a goalkeeper within the space of a week.

And with the Linfield goalkeeper keeping a clean-sheet in the 1-0 win against Dungannon Swifts last Saturday that is a warning sign to Glenavon.

Mannus spent three days training with the Northern Ireland squad in the build-up to Wednesday night's Euro 2008 qualifier against Liechtenstein at Windsor Park and he is determined to keep working hard in order to secure a place in Nigel Worthington's plans for the next five internationals by declaring last night: "I don't want to be back on stand-by again."

In order to do that, the first thing that Mannus must do is keep up his consistent form with Linfield that has seen him beaten just twice in four competitive games this season - two of which were in the Champions League.

Tonight it is back to bread and butter for Mannus when the Blues travel to Glenavon for a CIS Insurance Cup tie.

"I enjoyed being with the squad a lot and the training was very good as well," said Mannus.

"Fred Barber the new goalkeeping coach has a lot of experience both as a player and a coach at the top level with Bolton Wanderers.

"He has worked with some top goalkeepers and there are a few things he passed onto me that can help me in my own game and in training with the other goalkeepers at Linfield.

"Just working with him for a few days has made me a better goalkeeper.

"It is not often that goalkeepers in the Irish League get the chance to work with someone who coaches at a Premier League club, with a top class player like Jussi Jaaskelainen under him."

Mannus has now been involved with the Northern Ireland squad in the last three games, on top of his single cap which was earned just over three years ago.

With Maik Taylor and Roy Carroll in his way a second cap is still some way off, but Mannus' message to Worthington is that he wants to be in the squad to stay.

"I was surprised to get the call up in the first place," he said.

"I didn't expect it and it was a surprise when the letter came into the dressing room for me.

"I thought that I was going to be on stand-by at best, which would have been good, but to actually be in the squad was great for me."

Although he didn't make the 18-man panel for the game, the 24-year-old has benefited from the experience.

"I was pleased to be involved and even though I knew that unless something unusual happened to either Maik Taylor or Roy Carroll I wasn't going to make the 18 it was still great to work with Fred and the other goalkeepers and the quality of the outfield players we were up against in training as well.

"I have worked unbelievably hard to get to where I am now and I am working hard to get to the next level.

" I still want to be involved in the international squad and I don't want to go back to being on stand-by.

"That will be difficult for me with there being other goalkeepers in England and Scotland and I am sure when Michael Ingham and Alan Blaney get fixed up with clubs they will be pushing for a place in the squad again after being in before.

"All I can do is keeping working hard at Linfield and hope that I stay in."

A win tonight would all but secure Linfield's place in the quarter-finals of the CIS Cup and the Mourneview Park contest has a 7.45pm kick-off.

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