Baird raids Palace for goalkeeping star

- By Wendy Gee

Eastleigh's transfer-listed goalkeeper James Pullen looks set to be dropped for tommorow's Blue Square South trip to Bognor Regis Town following the arrival of David Wilkinson from Crystal Palace.

Wilkinson is joining the Spitfires on loan for the rest of the season as Baird seeks to strengthen any weak links in the side that could ruin their goal of reaching the play-offs.

"There are one or two positions we need to improve because people are not playing particularly well at the moment." said Baird.

"From what I saw, Jamie Pullen was one of the best keepers in the league last season but, for me, he hasn't played the same since I've been here.

"He's had a niggling injury, which hasn't helped, and goalkeeping is very much a position of confidence. If something goes against you, it invariably ends up with a goal."

During Pullen's time out injured, young Ross Kitteridge filled in on work experience from Reading but, at just turned 18, Baird has reservations about his age.

Instead he has turned to 20-year-old Croydon-born keeper Wilkinson, whose impressive performances in the Crystal Palace youth and reserve ranks earned him another 12-month contract at Selhurst Park for 2007/8.

"Jim Stannard, the Crystal Palace goalkeeping coach, has recommended to (manager) Neil Warnock that David becomes their second-choice keeper, but I know Neil Warnock always goes for experience and that's what he's done," said Baird. "But playing in the reserves is no good for the lad. He needs regular games in senior men's football."


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