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Middlesbrough born keeper, Connor Ripley, has a big job on his hands if he is to aid Bury’s chances of survival, but as one of the best keepers in League One, few are better prepared for the challenge.
Ripley started his career in the youth set up of Blackburn before making the switch to his hometown club, Middlesbrough, signing a two-year scholarship contract. He was a key part of the under 18 side at Boro, and signed his first professional contract in January 2011. He made his debut a year later in a 2-0 loss to Burnley, and was then sent out on an emergency loan to Oxford towards the end of the 11/12 season.
He spent the first half of the 13/14 season on loan at Bradford, but failed to break into the first team and only made one appearance. In March, Ripley took the unorthodox decision to move to Swedish side Ostersund on loan till the end of the 2014 season, he played regularly in the Superettan, and upon his return became Middlesbrough’s second choice keeper for the second half of the 14/15 season.
He spent the 15/16 on a season long loan at Motherwell, where he was first choice making 40 appearances. The 16/17 season was again spent on loan, this time at Oldham where he was ever present, making 56 appearances in all competitions keeping 19 clean sheets. In the process he won a host of post season awards, and was named in the EFL League One team of the year, after keeping the most clean sheets in the third tier.
His performances earned him a new long-term contract at Boro, and it was also announced he would spend the 17/18 season at Burton, making the step up to Championship football. However, Ripley failed to displace number one Stephen Bywater and was recalled by his parent club earlier this week.
He was then immediately sent out on loan again this time to League One Strugglers Bury. Despite saving a penalty on his debut, he was helpless to stop Bury’s seventh straight defeat.
Strengths & Weaknesses
Ripley is a strong and confident keeper who is enjoying a growing reputation in the game. The most important aspect of any keeper’s game is the ability to keep the ball out of the net, and this is one of Ripley’s strengths. He is a very good shot stopper, with the ability to pull breath-taking saves out of the bag.
Aside from this, Ripley is a leader at the back, and is very vocal in organising his defence. This is an important quality for any keeper to possess, as a goalkeeper that can guide his back four through games is a must in any successful side. Going to a side battling relegation, the organisational skills Ripley has could prove vital if Bury are to stay up.
In terms of his weaknesses, Ripley is a very well-rounded goalkeeper, who doesn’t have any glaring holes in his game. However, if he is to move to the next level he needs game time, and experience, something he will be hoping to get at Gigg Lane.
What They Say
Chris Lucketti- Bury manager
“I’m delighted to bring in Connor Ripley, He’s a top-class keeper and was exceptional during his loan spell with Oldham. He has a big future in the game and has come in to improve our squad.”
Mark McGhee- ex Motherwell manager
“I’ve been pleased with him. He’s a great size, he’s a great kicker, he is popular with the players, too. All of these things are important, and I think he is making a big contribution at the moment.”