Kettlewell calls for goalkeeper rule to avoid repeat of St Mirren's Covid-19 crisis
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Stuart Kettlewell is concerned Premiership matches risk being reduced to “farce” if special dispensation isn’t given to clubs facing a goalkeeping shortage.
The Ross County manager lent his support to St Mirren’s Jim Goodwin after the Paisley team were left scrambling for a number one candidate to face Hibernian at the weekend.
Leagues throughout Europe, including Scotland's top-flight, appear to be backing a 13 fit players rule, meaning any club with those first team numbers available must play.
But Kettlewell feels the SPFL should recognise that clubs with small squads and small budgets by necessity could be caught out on the goalkeeping front by sudden Covid-19 absences this season.
The Dingwall club has three senior keepers, but behind them is a 16-year-old schoolboy.
Saints managed to draft faced a nightmare scenario ahead of the Hibs defeat when first choice Jak Alnwick and back-up Dean Lyness both tested positive for coronavirus.
Third choice Peter Urminsky – given the all-clear to play this weekend – then had to isolate and stay at home.
The Buddies reacted in the nick of time to draft in Zdenek Zlamal on emergency loan from Hearts, but would otherwise have been forced to play an outfield player or goalkeeping coach instead.
Kettlewell said: “I heard Jim Goodwin’s comments at the weekend and I thought he was spot on.
“It’s a situation I had spoken about prior to him losing his three first team goalkeepers.
“You could get away with a striker, midfielder and defender being out - or even two in the position - with the size of squads a lot of us have got.
“It’s when it is that one specific position. The goalkeeping position is different from every other position on the pitch. It’s a specialist area.
“I wouldn’t have reservations playing a target man striker at centre back. That would be one of these situations where you have to be forced into adjusting
“But I believe there has to be some sort of common sense when it comes to looking at that goalkeeping situation.
“St Mirren got a decent goalkeeper in the nick of time but, my goodness, would any one of us want to be put into that situation?
“Do we have four or five goalkeepers to guard against that? Absolutely not.
“The fact we would be talking about outfield players or goalkeeping coaches going in goals I think just throws it into a bit of a farce if I’m being brutally honest.
“I definitely think Jim had a point in his comments.”
Kettlewell may not look to sign an extra goalkeeper in reaction to the St Mirren scenario, but he may yet have a striker in his sights.
The Staggies boss lost unsettled Lee Erwin to St Mirren on the eve of the Celtic game, bringing to an end an indifferent contribution in the Highlands from the former Kilmarnock, Motherwell and Leeds frontman.
Midfielder Joe Chalmers has also ended an injury-hit 14 months in Dingwall by joining Ayr.
Kettlewell is content with strike options, with Billy Mckay, Oli Shaw and Ross Stewart vying for places, but could move to strengthen if he finds the right character.
The County boss said: “Lee Erwin leaving maybe changes the situation slightly.
“I’ve said all along I was happy with my squad, but everyone needs to want to be here.
“I don’t want to work with guys and feel as if I’m doing them a favour to have them at the club.
“It’s important that everyone I have here desperately wants to play for Ross County.
“There’s personal situations in this as well. Lee felt he had to go back down the road for family reasons which we can’t fight at Ross County .
“With where we are geographically, as soon as someone says that to you then it’s a difficult one.
“That might change my mind and it may well have us looking at an attacking option.
“I’m not desperate to do so, I trust the guys I’ve got, but if the right thing comes up then we might have a look at it.”