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Scout Report: John Ruddy

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Sky Sports have this morning reported that Sunderland are set to move for Norwich City goalkeeper John Ruddy. We've seen him grace the top two English divisions for some years now but here's some more background on our potential new stopper.

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Full Name

John Thomas Gordon Ruddy.

Date & Place Of Birth

John was born on the 24th October 1986 in St. Ives.

Playing History

The one time England international has had permanent deals at three clubs in his career, and a whole host of loan deals. Coming through the Cambridge United youth system, Ruddy only had one full season of first team football before David Moyes brought him to Everton in 2005. It was difficult for Ruddy to break into the first team at Goodison Park, finding it hard to displace Richard Wright when first arriving on Merseyside, followed by former Manchester United goalie, Tim Howard. This lead to most of his Everton career being spent up and down the UK on loan at a variety of clubs - Walsall, Rushden & Diamonds, Chester City, Stockport County, Wrexham, Bristol City, Crewe Alexandra and Motherwell.

It was Motherwell where Ruddy had his most successful spell, making 34 appearances and keeping 15 clean sheets during the 2009/10 season. It was this form that prompted Norwich City to move for the 'keeper and Ruddy finally found a home. Despite Norwich's ups and downs in recent years, Ruddy became a firm fixture in the side, making 209 appearances to date.

What Has Been Said?

News broke this morning that David Moyes was eyeing John Ruddy to bolster Sunderland's goalkeeping options. Sky Sports were first to make reports with local press such as the Sunderland Echo and Northern Echo further confirming The Black Cats interest.

Down in East Anglia, there have been more mixed reports though. Outlets are suggesting it would be surprising for Alex Neil to sanction the move when City have just allowed Declan Rudd to move to Charlton Athletic on loan. It seems far from a nailed on deal as many feel that Ruddy should still be the first choice goalkeeper, despite the presence of Michael McGovern, so don't feel he should leave unless the club have someone else lined up.

Strengths & Weaknesses

When Ruddy first joined Norwich in 2010 he enjoyed a brilliant start to his career. The Canaries won promotion back to the Premier League and the goalkeepers confidence, command of area, great reflexes and agility, went a long way to winning them their high points total. This form continued right into 2012 and it earned Ruddy a call up to Roy Hodgson's England squad for Euro 2012. Unfortunately, a broken finger ruled him out of the tournament but he still earned his only cap later that year, in a friendly against Italy.

Not long after his England debut, Ruddy was in the form of his life and playing a huge role in Norwich going ten league games unbeaten. That form was abruptly brought to an end when he tore his thigh, which required surgery, ruling him out for three months. Since then, he's never quite reached the same heights, losing a lot of his agility. It's lead to him struggling to get down to low shots quick enough and more hesitant to come off his line to intercept through balls.

There were more ups and downs for Ruddy last season. During the campaign, he was dropped halfway through after a series of match-costing errors had him bereft of confidence. It seemed to be what he needed though and he came back looking closer to his 2012 form, ending the season on a personal high even though Norwich were relegated.

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Where Would He Fit Into David Moyes' Squad?

When Vito Mannone first picked up his injury, Moyes suggested he wanted to bring in an experienced keeper to keep Jordan Pickford on his toes. With Pickford looking like he will be given a run of games to make the number one shirt his own, we still need someone waiting in the wings should he become injured or lose form. John Ruddy should be able to fulfill that role without any trouble and is certainly a more practical option than us having to throw in the highly inexperienced Max Stryjek.

On the training ground, Ruddy should also be a good influence on Pickford. As the England Under 21 international looks to make the breakthrough to the senior team, who better to learn from than someone who was selected for a major international tournament?

Conclusion

This isn't a potential signing that gets the pulse racing but it's certainly a practical one. According to Norwich supporters, he should be more than adequate as a Premier League second choice 'keeper. We may not be too excited about it now but it's one that us fans could be very grateful for should Pickford need to be dropped, for whatever reason.

With only one year left on his Norwich contract, the fee for Ruddy won't be one that breaks the bank either. It's sensible on every level and certainly makes our goalkeeping options look stronger.