Leeds United: I’ll support and challenge for No1 place - Turnbull

Ross Turnbull.
Ross Turnbull.
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Stuart Taylor was the archetypal reserve goalkeeper; a player in the latter years of his career who averaged fewer than 10 appearances a season.

Leeds United released him in May and replaced him this week with a keeper who, statistically at least, fits the same mould – a perennial number two, happy to support and willing to tolerate a bit part role.

In reality Ross Turnbull is a more reluctant understudy. For a number of reasons his career has merely followed that path, in no small part due to a move to Chelsea which came from nowhere in 2009.

Prior to leaving Middlesbrough for Stamford Bridge, Turnbull had been on loan no fewer than six times. It was his way of amassing the experience which Boro weren’t always able to give him.

“I went out on loan quite a lot when I was younger because I wanted to play as much as I could,” he said. “Up until the move to Chelsea, I was looking for every opportunity. I wasn’t sitting back.

“In my four years at Chelsea I didn’t play so much but the experience was what I went there for. That’s the top level, the highest level really, and the experience I gained was fantastic. I wouldn’t change it.

“I knew I might not play too often – obviously I wanted to be playing but I knew how it was – but at the same time it was possible that I might get a run of games. Then you get a chance to prove yourself. That’s how I was thinking.”

Turnbull provided cover for Petr Cech and was used by Chelsea 19 times in four seasons. In that period he got a close-up view of all that went on at Stamford Bridge, sitting on the bench during the club’s run to the Champions League final in 2012 and their historic victory over Bayern Munich in Germany. He received a winners’ medal that night.

The 30-year-old left for Doncaster in 2013 and moved to Barnsley last summer but injuries limited his involvement at both clubs. Before signing him on a two-year deal on Wednesday, Leeds were keen to see if he was fully recovered from the back operation which forced him to miss the end of Barnsley’s recent League One season.

Turnbull showed no sign of discomfort during his first appearance for United, completing 80 minutes in Wednesday’s night’s 1-1 draw at York City.

“That’s my first game for a while and I feel really good,” he said. “Touch wood I’ll stay injury free.

“I’ve had a couple of years with a few injuries and that’s strange for me because I never really had any problems before. I’ve picked up a few niggles here and there but I feel fit now.”

Uwe Rosler, United’s head coach, was happy with Turnbull’s performance at Bootham Crescent but was clear in saying that Marco Silvestri, Leeds’ Italian keeper, will start the new Championship season as the club’s first choice.

Silvestri played in a 3-0 win at Tadcaster Albion on Wednesday as Rosler divided his squad for two simultaneous friendlies. The 24-year-old has three years left on his contract and was one of owner Massimo Cellino’s prime transfer targets last summer. Cellino describes him as a “£5million goalkeeper” though it is not clear how much Leeds actually paid to sign him from Chievo.

“Marco did very well last season,” Rosler said. “If in pre-season everything goes normal, Marco will start (the new season) as number one. Obviously he then has to keep the shirt and that comes from good performances.”

Turnbull appeared in no doubt about the current pecking order at Elland Road.

“I’ve come here to challenge Marco,” he said. “He’s a top keeper so I’ve got to support him and push him. If he’s playing well then that’s good for the team and massively important – the most important thing.

“It (being second choice) isn’t something I want to do but I understand it’s a team game. If Marco’s doing well then I’m pleased because it means the team should be doing well. Obviously I want to play myself but it’s a squad game and all of us are needed. It’s the same in every position. You’ve always got people challenging to get into the team.

“When I spoke to the manager he was keen for me to bring my experience on board. It’s up to me to try and help the young boys and set a good example.

“Chelsea was valuable for me. You could look at it as four years when I didn’t play too much but that wasn’t how I saw it. We’ve got a young team here and if my experience from Chelsea helps them in any way then that’s a good thing.”

Thomas Christiansen directs his players from the sidelines at Loftus Road on Saturday afternoon. 
Picture: Bruce Rollinson

Watch: Thomas Christiansen’s post-match press conference after Leeds United’s 3-1 win at QPR