Keeper battle at Reading
By Tom Latchem
Last Updated: 01/01/70 1:00am
Marcus Hahnemann and Graham Stack are relishing their battle for a place.
Reading goalkeepers Marcus Hahnemann and Graham Stack are relishing their impending battle for the number one shirt at The Madejski Stadium.
Twenty-three-year-old Stack was signed from Arsenal by Royals manager Steve Coppell to provide competition to Hahnemann, an ever-present last season.
United States international Hahnemann, 33, needs first-team action to cement his place in his country's World Cup finals squad next year.
But Stack, a former Republic of Ireland Under-21 international, wants to end the American's reign as Reading's top shot-stopper.
"Of course I'm looking forward to the battle with Marcus," Stack told skysports.com. "I always like competing. I'm a competitive person and I've not come here to be a substitute.
"I don't like getting anyone out of the team but I am a professional footballer and want to play for Reading - as I am sure Marcus does.
"My aim is not to get him out of the team, but to get myself in - no matter who is in front of me. That's the way it is.
"Especially as a goalkeeper, it doesn't matter whether the person is a friend or not - you just want to play and improve yourself.
"For the next three years, I have come to establish myself as number one and it is going to be great to have competition between myself and Marcus.
"I'll be pushing him as hard as I can and I am sure he will be pushing me too."
With Hahnemann so desperate to be involved at next summer's world festival of football, he could be forgiven for feeling bitter at Stack's arrival.
On the contrary, the former Fulham keeper is surprisingly magnanimous about the development - insisting it will improve his international chances.
"The bottom line is we need two good goalkeepers," Hahnemann said to skysports.com. "Last year I played every game and it was tough.
"There may be times this season - although I don't want to jinx myself - where I might be injured.
"It's great competition. Graham will make me get better and I'll make him get better. It is my spot to lose.
"But I have to play. I was in the United States World Cup qualifying squad and in their Gold Cup squad. With a World Cup coming up, if I don't play, then I won't be in the squad.
"But Graham and I bonded when we trained together last week and it is good to get a friend on the team.
"He played from Millwall last year and kept Andy Marshall out of the side. He did really well.
"When we played Millwall he had a great game, like all year. He is definitely a decent goalkeeper."
Stack is currently out injured, awaiting the results of a scan on his bruised right thumb.
He insists he is being well looked after in Berkshire and that the gulf between Arsenal and his new club is not that different, adding: "The ambition and facilities here at Reading are superb.
"To compare it with Arsenal is a big ask - they have been a top-flight team for many years - but Reading have ambitions to join them over the next ten years."