Wolves goalkeeper John Ruddy has given an insight into the differences between him and ‘exceptional’ rival Rui Patricio.
Ruddy is preparing for only his fourth appearance of the season on Thursday night when Besiktas are the visitors to Molineux in the final Europa League group game.
The former Norwich shotstopper has been forced into a watching brief for 25 Premier League and Europa League matches as Patricio has performed impressively between the sticks.
The two work closely off the pitch as Ruddy helps keep the Portugal international on his toes while also trying to be as sharp as possible for those occasional chances to perform himself.
It’s all in the life of a second-choice goalkeeper. But it has nonetheless given Ruddy a goalkeeping education he would almost certainly never have had otherwise, and it exposes how different they are as custodians.
Ruddy, naturally, follows many traits of a traditional British ‘keeper in spending more time off his line ready to deal with crosses.
Patricio’s starting position is much more conservative, almost hogging the goalline even if the ball is flashing across the goal, but relying on his electric footwork to enable him to be in the right positions to react quickly to make saves.
“He’s completely different to anyone I’ve ever worked with before,” said Ruddy, who won one full cap with England.
“It’s in terms of the way he does things but it’s very, very interesting and quite clearly it works for him.
“He works very close to his line, closer to his line than anyone else I’ve ever seen but with the speed of his feet he can afford to do that.
“Someone like me wouldn’t be able to do that. Again, it shows the difference in the art of goalkeeping and it’s something he’s very good at.
“It’s great to work with him, and great to learn from him. He’s a good guy as well and his English is getting a lot better, which is good.
“It’s been really good to watch and some of the performances have been exceptional, so long may that continue.”
At 33, Ruddy needs to be playing regularly but after 24 clean sheets in 45 League games as Wolves swept to the Championship title, the former Norwich number one has been forced to be second fiddle for the last 18 months.
But such has been the excellent form of Patricio, Ruddy admits he can have no complaints.
“He’s been excellent since he’s come in,” said Ruddy. “His CV and his career speaks for itself. He’s been great to work alongside.”