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Michael McGovern eyeing number one spot at Livingston

Michael McGovern has not played a game for almost two years (Nigel French/PA)
Michael McGovern has not played a game for almost two years (Nigel French/PA)

Former Northern Ireland goalkeeper Michael McGovern is determined to become Livingston’s number one as he bids to banish the “frustration” of making just one appearance in the last three years.

The 39-year-old joined the bottom-of-the-table Lions on loan from cinch Premiership rivals Hearts last week to provide competition and cover for Shamal George after Jack Hamilton suffered an injury that could keep him out until March.

McGovern – who won 32 caps for his country and featured at Euro 2016 – has not played since being given a one-off run-out for Norwich in an FA Cup tie at Wolves in February 2022, but he is adamant he is not resigned to being a back-up keeper for what remains of his career.

“I’ve got some stiff competition with the other goalkeepers but I’ve come here to try and get in the team and play,” he said.

“At Hearts, I wasn’t playing and recently I haven’t even been on the bench because Craig Gordon’s back fit so this is a better opportunity for me here.

“It’s been difficult. At Norwich, I was going in every day trying to get in the team, same at Hearts. I wasn’t just happy to pick up my wages, I wanted to contribute.

“But it’s hard sometimes as a goalkeeper because only one can play. In my last season at Norwich I was up against Angus Gunn, a Scotland international, and Tim Krul, a Holland international.

“And then I went to Hearts and I was up against Craig and Zander Clark, two Scotland internationals, so it’s been tough. It’s been frustrating not to play because I’m desperate to play and contribute to a team and get that feeling back on a Saturday so that’s my aim here.”

Asked if he still feels sharp enough to re-establish himself as first-choice goalkeeper, McGovern – who will be in the squad for Saturday’s cinch Premiership match at home to Dundee – said: “Most definitely. People don’t see it because I’ve not played much but in training I feel really sharp.

“At Norwich, I was sharp last season, coming up against top international players (in training) and making saves. I feel like you’ve got a personal responsibility to look after yourself when you’re not playing.

“The games I have played over recent years, I’ve kind of come from nowhere to go straight into the team and I’ve always produced when needed. That’s because I’m looking after myself every day, I feel like fitness-wise I’m in the best shape I’ve ever been in.”