West Ham loanee keeper Stephen Henderson ‘desperate’ to extend his stay at Ipswich Town
IPSWICH Town keeper Stephen Henderson admits he is desperate to extend his loan deal at Portman Road until the end of the season after finally winning over the fans.
The 24-year-old signed a three-month loan – which expires on January 12 – under previous boss Paul Jewell, just 10 days after summer signing and fans’ favourite Scott Loach made two high-profile errors in a 2-1 home loss to Cardiff City on October 6.
The West Ham loanee has started all 14 fixtures since – 11 under new manager Mick McCarthy – making impressive saves in eye-catching performances as Town continue to scale the Championship.
But now, with just two weeks remaining on his short-term contract, the Irish shot-stopper has expressed his desire to remain at the Suffolk club.
“I’m desperate to stay,” said Henderson. “I don’t want to leave. I want to be a part of something here. It’s a fantastic club.
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“But it’s out of my hands. It’s up to West Ham and Ipswich to sort something out.
“They know how I feel about it; I don’t need persuading to stay. Mick and I had a conversation and I made it clear that I wanted to stay.
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“I don’t want to go back and sit on the bench. I need to play. I could sit on the bench [at West Ham] and pick up my bench fee but it’s just not in my nature.
“I wasted too much time not playing when I was younger. I’m not willing to sit out no matter how good the club is.
“I can’t impress [Republic of Ireland] by sitting on the bench. That’s why I’ve come down here.
“I want to be number one for the rest of the season. That’s the opportunity for me and I hope now something can get sorted.”
Henderson has produced vital stops to buttress Ipswich’s resurgent run, losing just once in a run of seven matches that has included wins over Nottingham Forest, Bolton and Charlton.
The 6ft 2ins keeper appears set to retain his starting berth against Wolves today at Molineux (3pm ko), with Loach – who joined his boyhood club from Watford in August – likely to be confined to the dugout once again.
A minority of Blues fans initially voiced their frustration over Loach’s demotion, but Town’s current No.1 believes he has grown both as a player and person after banishing the boos.
“I had a tough time with them in my first few weeks,” said Henderson. “I’ve never experienced grief from my own fans.
“I was aware of Scott being the fans’ favourite. I heard them singing his name and my performances weren’t up to scratch.
“It was hard to take but I wouldn’t change it. I’m glad it happened because it made me think a lot more. It made me change everything about my game to be honest.
“It’s something that I’m really happy happened. I know it sounds daft but it’s made me a stronger person now that I’ve come through to the other side.
“The fans have been outstanding with me ever since. They were right behind my goal (against Charlton) and were really good.
“I was harsh on myself before and rightly so because I wasn’t performing well, but I think I’m doing a lot better now. I knew I would get it back after a few games. You don’t become a bad keeper overnight. I think there’s a lot more to come.”
He added: “In this day and age it’s ridiculous how much criticism the goalkeeper comes in for. Scott made one mistake (against Cardiff) and it’s unfortunate for him that I came in when I did.
“But I saw it as a chance for me to play games – it was nothing against Scott.
“We have a great relationship on and off the pitch. He’s been great to me since I joined. It’s just one of those rivalries where we help each other all the time.
“Scott is a great lad and a really good goalkeeper; I’m sure he will do well whatever happens.”
– See today’s EADT for full match preview. Follow @Stuart_Watson and @davegoods on Twitter for live match updates.