PROMISING young goalkeeper Ryan Fulton is hoping to bounce back from injury in time for Scotland’s forthcoming home nations clash with Northern Ireland.
The 15-year-old prospect, a scholar with Premier League giants Liverpool, has stepped up his rehabilitation after damaging knee ligaments while representing the Merseyside club against Cardiff City.
The one-time Shuttleworth College pupil was forced to undergo surgery at the city’s Spire Hospital and faced a two-month recuperation period after being caught with a late challenge when clearing a back pass during the encounter at Liverpool FC’s Academy in Kirkby.
But the youngster has been determined to add to his two international appearances and has recently crept back in to training. Now the aim is to make coach Ross Mathie’s Under 16s squad for the Sky Sports Victory Shield match against the Northern Irish on Friday, November 4th and the England game on Friday, November 25th, both of which will be broadcast live on Sky Sports.
His dad Brian Fulton said: “His training has been going well so far. They’ve been stepping things up at a progressive rate and if he continues to improve and makes it through a full session comfortably then he could make Liverpool’s youth squad for the game away at West Brom on October 29th.
“We hope he’ll be back in time to face Northern Ireland but if not then he should be included in the squad to face England.”
Ryan, who featured in the nation’s respective 1-1 draw and 2-0 victory over Belgium held at the Doubletree Dunblane Stadium, Stirling, at the end of May, missed the 0-0 stalemate with Wales in the opening game of the tournament. The up-coming shot-stopper faces a tough battle for the number one shirt with Rangers keeper Liam Kelly and Celtic stopper Jordan Hart performing well but his dad is happy with the way management staff have made his son feel included despite being sidelined.
“They’ve been great with him,” said Brian. “They didn’t want to lose him or make him feel left out. They invited Ryan on the pre-match meal for the Wales game at the end of September and they included him on the bench for the fixture. That was really good of them.”
But, despite his obvious popularity among the Scottish ranks, it’s been a difficult few weeks for the teenager. “He was heart-broken,” said Brian. “He gets depressed about not being out there on the pitch. But he’s kicking and handling a ball again now so he’s perked up a bit.
“He’s someone who will come back stronger and more determined. If he sees his place slipping a bit he’ll come back and make sure that he works even harder to get it back. I’m delighted for him, it’s absolutely brilliant that he’s representing Scotland.”
Ryan is eligible to play internationally north of the border as his father heralds from Scotland. But Three Lions Under 16s head coach Kenny Swain is still intent on drafting Ryan in to his young squad.
“Ryan has been asked to go for trials for England,” said Brian. “But at the moment he wants to be loyal to Scotland because they were the first to take an interest in him. All the decisions have come off his own back; he spoke to his agent and goalkeeping coach and wanted to stay with Scotland.”
And aside from his national hopes, Ryan continues to add to his growing reputation at the Anfield club.
He was in action for the Reds in a prestigious international tournament in Holland earlier in the year and helped Liverpool reach the semi-finals, where they lost out to eventual runners-up PSV, but beat Zenit St Petersburg in the third-place play-off.
The competition, which was won by Real Madrid, saw Manchester United finish 11th in comparison.
And, up until his injury, Ryan was made captain of his side. Now his proud father believes he’s developing in to a goalkeeper in the mould of Liverpool greats Ray Clemence, David James, Bruce Grobbelaar, and current incumbent of the number one jersey World Cup winning Spaniard Pepe Reina.
He said: Everything is starting to take shape now. He’s still growing and bulking up so he’s definitely got the stature to become a goalkeeper. His development has been phenomenal and hopefully he can go all the way.”
Maybe one day those comparisons will be matched to the likes of Scotland legends Jim Leighton and Andy Goram. Watch this space!