BY RICHARD CAWLEY
Connal Trueman has kept two clean sheets in four League One matches – but reckons he has plenty of room for further improvements while on loan at AFC Wimbledon.
The Birmingham City keeper was man of the match in Saturday’s 1-0 victory at Swindon Town.
But Trueman, 24, says a lack of significant game time in recent seasons with the Blues has left him needing to shake off some of the rust of inactivity.
“I’ve started alright,” he said. “We’ve had a couple of clean sheets on the road and as a goalkeeper there is not a lot which is more pleasing than that.
“But it’s been a bit of time where I haven’t played football. It was always going to take a little bit of time for me to come in, find my feet and hit the levels I want to hit. I still think I’m a bit away from that.
“There is a lot more to come from this team as well. It’s been a solid start, something we can build on going forward.”
Trueman had a 10-game run in the Birmingham first-team last season – they conceded 22 times in less than a two-month period running up to the start of January.
Pep Clotet was sacked in July after one win in 10 Championship fixtures.
“We went through a tricky period and it started before I got in the team,” said Trueman, who signed for the Midlands club at the age of 11. “It was a bit of a bad run and changes were made. It’s part of football and I definitely accept and respect that.
“Towards the end of the season we were in a relegation battle and we went with experience – the team selection reflected that. I accepted that at the time, and I still do now. It was a perfectly reasonable thing to do and there is nothing untoward on my part.
“But I’ve spent a lot of time on the bench and it was frustrating for me. I wanted to play a lot more football than I got the chance to do.
“As nice as it was to get those games it was always a case of wanting more.”
Trueman was aware before he joined the Dons that they have a decent record in recent times in terms of loan goalkeepers.
The best example is Aaron Ramsdale, who kicked on into AFC Bournemouth’s first-team. He made a big-money switch to Sheffield United in the off season and is playing for England U21s.
“It’s a massively positive thing for the club – that they know they improve players so much,” said Trueman. “Aaron has gone from strength to strength. There are others who have done well too. I’m excited to be here and want to emulate them.
“I don’t think it is any coincidence that they have worked with Bayso [Ashley Bayes]. He is a top coach but also a top guy. He gets you on a personal level – which is crucial – and his coaching is first class.
“He can never do enough for you, whether that is in the analysis room or out on the training pitch.
“I heard towards the back end of last season, after the Championship had restarted, that a move here was a possibility. There was interest both ways.
“We had to wait until the end of the season before the clubs really started talking about it and then they put it to me officially.
“Goalkeepers are a little different to outfield players, in terms of when we peak. I’ve been around the first-team environment for the last couple of years and it’s made me even more hungry.
“I’m well aware what I need to kick on – that’s football, football and more football.
“As a team we’ve been fighting relegation the last couple of years but it is a big thing within the changing room that it is time to put that sort of thing behind us and start looking up the table, to see how far and high we can get up it.
“If I have a positive season it means the team should as well.”
PICTURES: KEITH GILLARD/SEAN GOSLING
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