Back in January no one could have predicted what this year would hold in store for us and the landscape of football is unrecognisable to that at the start of the year, with fans only just beginning to be allowed into football stadiums, premature endings to domestic leagues and the cancellation of Euro 2020.
At the beginning of 2020 Sparta Spotlight looked at a trio of English goalkeepers who were set for big things this year. As this torrid enters its final month how did 2020 turnout for these up and comers? Let's find out.
2020 did turn out to be a big year for Aynsley Pears, ending his thirteen-year association with Middlesbrough with a move to Blackburn for an undisclosed fee in October of this year.
Like predicted, Pears did play a prominent role in Middlesbrough’s first team as part of Jonathan Woodgate’s set up and then Neil Warnock’s as ‘Boro pulled themselves to safety in the Championship. The England under-19 international was Warnock’s first choice initially, but the loan signing of Marcus Betinelli pushed Pears back down the pecking order.
Tony Mowbray, a former teammate of Pears’ father, brought him to Ewood Park to compete for the number one spot with Thomas Kaminski and debutised for the Belgian for three games, including a 0-0 draw against his old club.
He has predominantly acted as backup at Rovers, but at twenty-two Pears is still very much cutting his teeth in professional football.
2020 has went largely as expected for Dean Henderson in many respects. He is very much still in the England set up, making his international debut against Ireland in November and has returned to parent-club Manchester United to compete with David De Gea.
Henderson hasn’t yet managed to break the hegemony of David De Gea in the United goal but did replace the Spaniard at half time in the recent game with Southampton.
He has been mostly limited to appearances in the League Cup, although it was always going to be a battle with De Gea and one that will likely be ongoing.
Sheffield United have certainly missed him this term and their replacement, Aaron Ramsdale has not lived up to the billing in what has been a disastrous start to the 20/21 season for the Blades.
As predicted Angus Gunn has faced stiff competition from Alex McCarthy for the gloves at Southampton and has had to move to the Championship for some much needed first team football.
Gunn’s last game for the Saints was the ill-fated 9-0 defeat at home to Leicester, from which the club have never looked back, but the twenty-four-year-old has suffered as a result of the form of McCarthy and has not played a single minute for Southampton since.
Michael O’Neill moved to bring Gunn to Stoke on a loan deal on the October deadline and the England under-21 international has been part of a side on the verges of the top six.
However, Gunn’s turbulent year has suffered another bump after suffering knee-ligament damage at the end of November which could keep him out until February.