Relishing The Challenge

New keeper looking forward to working with Ikeme

 A delighted Andy Lonergan is relishing the battle for the goalkeeping shirt with Carl Ikeme after completing a deal to join Wolves from Fulham.

The 32-year-old keeper, with over 350 Sky Bet Championship appearances to his name, has put pen to paper on a two-year contract to make the switch from Craven Cottage to Molineux.

There is also a further year’s option in Wolves’ favour.

Lonergan, who has revealed previous Fulham team-mate and Wolves defender Richard Stearman spoke very highly of the club, is also keen to add that experience and his personality to the dressing room.

“I’m delighted to be here,” he says.

“Wolves is a massive club and one of those when you play them you always know it is going to be a tough game and the atmosphere is fantastic.

“To be part of that, and hopefully a successful team at Molineux, is something I am looking forward to.

“There are a lot of factors which go into moving clubs.

“When you hear that first bit of interest you either say to yourself ‘yes I fancy that’ or ‘I’m not sure’.

“My gut reaction with the Wolves interest was that I would like to make the move.

“Now it is sorted it is ‘happy days’.

“I’ve played against Wolves a lot.

“I always remember during my days with Preston that we always had some right good games with Wolves.

“It is a great arena to play football.

“The game for Fulham last year I remember it was wet and cold and windy and we got a bit of a ‘doing’.

“There is something about these traditional clubs that really get you going and I can’t wait to get started.”

Lonergan is well aware of the personnel at Wolves from playing against them over plenty of years and, as mentioned previously, had a fairly solid recommendation when the interest first surfaced!

“I know some of the lads only really from playing against them,” he explains.

“I was with Joe Mason at Bolton so I know him quite well.

“I spoke to Stears about it and he couldn’t speak highly enough of the club.

“He was the first person I spoke to when I heard of the interest and he just told me to go for it.

“I am sure two or three days into pre-season it will feel like I have known the lads all my life.

“I would like to think I am quite a good character to have around the place – I don’t really have any enemies!

“Hopefully the experience I have can help some of the younger players and that is what happens when you get to a certain age.

“At Fulham there were some really talented young lads who have got their heads screwed on and as an experienced player you try to be there for them to help if you can.

“I have been in the game a long time and things can come up  where you can maybe help the younger players if they haven’t experienced it before.”

Lonergan is also in regular contact with former Wolves keeper Matt Murray from a time when the two were involved in rehabilitation from injury many years ago.

The goalkeeping union is a very tight one, and so while Lonergan is ready for the challenge of battling with Ikeme, he is also looking forward to working with the Nigerian international and Wolves’ other keepers Jon Flatt and Harry Burgoyne.

In terms of the challenge for the goalkeeping position, Lonergan says:  “I know the situation here.

“In my opinion Carl is comfortably one of the top three keepers in the league.

"It is up to me to put pressure on him.

“Obviously I want to play – everyone wants to play -  and everywhere I have been it has been a challenge.

“You just have to be patient if you are waiting for your chance and take it when it comes along.

“Carl is a fantastic goalkeeper and I have heard a lot of good things about him and am looking forward to working with him.

“Clubs are now going down the route of wanting two number one goalkeepers.

“I have played nearly 400 games in this league so I would like to class myself as a number one.

“Most clubs now have two goalkeepers who could both go in and play and hopefully I can add to the squad here.”

Like Wolves, Fulham fell below expectations in the Championship last season.

Lonergan is confident his new club can do better this time around albeit in what – as ever- will be an extremely tough division.

“It is such a difficult league and every year it gets harder,” he says.

“Look at Newcastle and the teams that have come down and they are going to be a big threat.

“But in this league, it can be anybody’s.

“You have got to put the work in, regardless of how good you are.

“At Fulham we probably had one of the best squads in the league on paper but look where we finished.

“It is a tough league and it is about hard work.

“The young lads here who I played against last season were outstanding so fingers crossed we can have a good season.

“When you come to a new club then there is that excitement about getting settled and looking forward to the season.

“I am off on holiday for a couple of weeks but will be working hard and getting ready to come back in at the end of June.”