Teenage goalkeeper Gavin Bazunu is firmly aiming for Manchester City’s top spot.
The 19-year-old spent last season on loan at Rochdale, a campaign in which he experienced both the joy of making his senior international debut for the Republic of Ireland and the bitter disappointment of relegation from League One.
But as he watched his parent club from afar fight their way to a Premier League and Carabao Cup brace and fell in the final Champions League leg, his long-term goal remained unchanged.
When asked if he hopes to be City’s first-choice goalkeeper one day, he replied: “Yes, of course. That’s 100% my goal. I wouldn’t have gone to Manchester City if I didn’t think I could be the number one keeper.
“Every day, that’s what I’m working towards. That’s the goal.”
To that end, Bazunu, who is currently on international duty with Ireland, maintained regular contact with City Guard Chief Xabier Mancisidor during his time at the Crown Oil Arena as he aimed for the high status of ‘Ederson and his understudy Zack Steffen.
He said: “I’m talking to Xabi, who is the goalkeeper coach there. In fact, I spoke to him today and I like to keep in touch with him.
“During the season I talk to him once or twice a week and we go through clips from previous games and he gives me a glimpse of what he thinks I can improve.
“Initially, the plan was that I would go train with them once or twice a week, but due to Covid and all the restrictions, that was not possible.”
Bazunu, who turned 19 in February, is the youngest goalkeeper to play senior football for the Republic, replacing Shay Given, who won his first cap a month before his 18th birthday.
And the youngster hopes to continue his training at the international level in Tuesday night’s friendly against Hungary in Budapest, live on Air sports, having been propelled into the senior ranks for the March World Cup qualifier against Luxembourg in the absence of injured number one Darren Randolph.
His debut ended in disappointment as Ireland slipped to an embarrassing 1-0 defeat in Dublin, but he seized the opportunity in its wake despite his young years.
He said: “I was nervous before the first game, but I didn’t feel any pressure. Obviously I wanted to do well for myself and for the team, but at the end of the day I’m just doing my job. . just like in any other game and I just go out there and try to enjoy it as much as I can. “