Port Vale man at centre of Chesterfield's goalkeeping conundrum
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Brazilian Lucas Covolan joined as the club’s number one stopper on a season-long loan from Port Vale in the summer.
The 31-year-old started in net on the opening day of the season at Dorking Wanderers but was stupidly sent off in the first-half for a stamp. His actions led to manager Paul Cook warning him that he would have to leave if he could not be ‘trusted’ on the pitch.
With Covolan handed a three-match ban, the Spireites swooped for Ross Fitzsimons, 28, on a short-term deal. He kept two clean sheets in his first three games but then Covolan returned between the posts after his suspension.
The former Torquay United man started the next eight fixtures, but then suffered an ankle injury at the start of October and he has not played since.
Fitzsimons had done a great job since coming back in for the last eight matches, leaving Cook with a nice selection headache when Covolan is fit again.
The two stoppers have contrasting styles, with Covolan more of a natural sweeper keeper, ideal for a team who plays a high-line, as Town do. His approach makes your heart skip a beat.
Fitzsimons, meanwhile, is more steady, solid rather than flashy. He is less likely to make you nervous when watching from the stands. In recent weeks he has made a number of key saves and he has played a big part in the current seven-game unbeaten run.
Covolan’s record this season stands at: P9 W5 D2 L2 and one clean sheet.
Fitzsimons' record is: P11 W8 D2 L1 and five clean sheets.
So, two good goalkeepers in their own right, but Fitzsimons has the edge statistically.
One complication is that if Fitzsimons is to continue in net, what does the club do about Covolan’s loan deal? Would he be happy being a number two? Given his contract at Port Vale expires next year, you would have to think he would want to go and play games and earn a new deal somewhere else.
But, at the moment, it would be harsh to drop Fitzsimons. And would he be happy being a number two after playing so well?
It is a nice problem to have, and one that should become more clear in the coming weeks.