Roy Carroll is showing me how to be a number one hit, says Linfield stand-in Deane
Linfield's latest hero Gareth Deane says he's ready to rise to the big occasion again for the Blues.
The 2-0 victory at Newry City on Tuesday night, courtesy of two Michael O'Connor strikes, ensured the league leaders have now gone more than 11 hours without conceding a Premiership goal.
Goalkeeper Deane kept that remarkable run going by superbly stopping Dale Montgomery's second-half penalty.
The club's goalkeeping coach Jonny Williamson informed the 24-year-old on Tuesday morning he would be deputising for Roy Carroll and the Lisburn man grasped his big chance in style.
"He hit the penalty well, though it was a good height for me," said the former Queens Park Rangers youngster.
"Roy was struggling and Jonny called me to say there was a good chance I'd be playing. When you have a man like Roy in front of you, whose performances have been unbelievable, you expect to sit on the bench, watch and learn. When the chance comes you have to take it, that's the life of a No.2."
Deane said the significance of preserving the club's clean sheet record in the league only dawned on him after the heroics.
"The clean sheet record is crazy and it just shows you how good Roy and the boys have been," added Deane. "The big man has been unbelievable but I didn't have time to think about the record when the penalty was awarded. After I saved it I felt that was their best chance to score. Keepers aren't expected to save penalties but we foiled their best chance to ruin the stat. Hopefully Roy can return to the team but when he can't I will do my best to keep the run going.
"The penalty save is a big confidence boost and after the game the boys including Roy were keen to congratulate me. Roy texted me as well and it's nice to know you can help the team when the time arises. I need to be ready to step in when required.
"The messages on social media have been positive too but we have big games to look forward to. Everyone wants to beat Linfield and to knock us off the top spot. We want to bring silverware back to the club."
Carroll may return for the Big Two clash against Glentoran at Windsor Park in front of the Sky Sports cameras on Monday night but Deane won't be fazed if he's thrown into the spotlight.
"I've played in big games including one Big Two one when we beat Glentoran 3-0 at The Oval. That was the year we lost to Glenavon in the Irish Cup final. I played the final few games," he said. "It will be a tough game but we aren't getting ahead of ourselves because a few bad results could change things. We are optimistic about this season and not qualifying for Europe was a big motivation for us as it clearly wasn't good enough." Whether he's between the posts during game time or not, Deane will always cherish the time he has learning from Northern Ireland international Carroll.
"The big man is working with me three nights a week in training and then I get to watch him on a Saturday," he added.
"People say 'Is it not frustrating sitting on the bench?' but I'm in awe of Roy because of the way he carries himself and his performances. He's a professional and there's very few goalkeepers in the UK with his experience and knowledge. He will often give me advice. We have a great relationship and back each other up. I'll be right behind Roy as always if he's back on Monday."