Published: 12/09/2017 08:00 - Updated: 11/09/2017 12:21

Mark Ridgers praises 'incredibly talented' Owain Fon Williams and empathises with his Caley Thistle situation

Written byJamie Durent

Mark Ridgers is full of praise for sidelined Caley Thistle goalkeeper Owain Fon Williams. Picture: Ken Macpherson.
Mark Ridgers is full of praise for sidelined Caley Thistle goalkeeper Owain Fon Williams. Picture: Ken Macpherson.

 

MARK Ridgers is full of praise for his fellow Caley Thistle goalkeeper Owain Fon Williams and the professionalism he has shown.

Wales international Fon Williams has been told he can leave the club but Ridgers said he has been brilliant with him since arriving at the club in the summer.

The pair share lifts to training with another goalkeeper, Cammy Mackay, and operate under Ryan Esson’s gaze as a group of seven goalkeepers on Inverness’s books.

Fon Williams was the club’s number one over the last two seasons and played through back and groin injuries for the team. However, as part of cost-cutting after relegation, he was told he could leave and Ridgers brought in as his long-term replacement on a three-year deal.

There could have been potential for frostiness between the pair but Ridgers said this could not be further from the truth.

“We travel together in the car to training and he’s been brilliant with me,” said Ridgers. “When he’s been fit he’s trained and I know he has had an injury.

“It’s one of those situations that I found myself in at St Mirren. But he’s been professional and got on with his job.

“You do wonder when you come in what’s it going to be like but he’s fine with me and I’m fine with him.

“It’s between him and the club to sort out but he’s good to have around. He’s a really nice, interesting guy and now I know a bit more about him, particularly with his painting, the guy is incredibly talented.

“Having been in his position, to be involved in the first team you need to keep doing the best for yourself and ultimately that’s what he’s doing.”

Fon Williams is understood to be frustrated by some comments made online by supporters, purporting him to have refused to play.

Owain Fon Williams has not played for Caley Thistle since this 4-2 defeat by Motherwell in April. Picture: Ken Macpherson.
Owain Fon Williams has not played for Caley Thistle since this 4-2 defeat by Motherwell in April. Picture: Ken Macpherson.

 

Manager John Robertson said last week that he had not been fit but when one user asked Fon Williams on Twitter when he was back from injury, he replied “I’m not injured.”

He has still been training as part of one of the biggest goalkeeping divisions in the Championship. For keeping them all on their toes, Ridgers believes player-coach Ryan Esson deserves some credit.

“From his point of view, he’s having to work out sessions for people who are playing and not playing,” said Ridgers. “But as a group of goalkeepers we understand each other, because it’s a specialist position.

“I’ve worked under a player-coach before and when he started playing, it became all about him. Ess is juggling between coaching but he’s fully focused on coaching and doing things to keep us all sharp.”

Ridgers was involved on Saturday as Caley Thistle were beaten 4-2 at his old club St Mirren. Defensively he accepts they have not been good enough recently and is prepared to take the blame for it, if it takes some heat off his team-mates.

“People from the outside might be thinking ‘what’s he doing?’ but I’m trying to do everything I can to keep the ball out of the net,” said Ridgers.

Cammy Smith beats Mark Ridgers for St Mirren's third goal. Picture: Ken Macpherson.
Cammy Smith beats Mark Ridgers for St Mirren's third goal. Picture: Ken Macpherson.

 

“With the first goal on Saturday, the ball is going to my left and I’ve tried to bring my leg across to stop it. It’s frustrating because people don’t see that. If they want to point fingers I’m happy to take the blame off the team. People criticise the best goalkeepers in the world and players in the English Premier League still get criticised. There’s a reason they’re at that level.”

The Caley Jags have the second-worst defensive record in the Championship, with 11 goals conceded from five games. Only Falkirk and Brechin City – both with 12 – have let in more goals.

Their only league clean sheet came against Brechin at the end of August and Ridgers is desperate to put that right.

“You want to give more on the goals that you lose – they are sloppy mistakes and slackness and hopefully we can get that out of our system,” he said.

“You can put it down to two things defensively – not being organised and still trying to get to know a new back-line. Guys are coming in and out of the team and it’s difficult to get consistency.

“We need to sort ourselves out defensively and stop conceding stupid goals. We’re scoring goals but we’re not going to be winning games if we keep doing this.”

Lewis Morgan put Saints in front before John Baird’s equaliser. Gregor Buchanan restored the lead before Liam Polworth levelled again. Further goals from Cammy Smith and Ian McShane sealed the win.

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