A surprise ‘call-up’ to train with Fabio Capello’s England squad, a regular spot in the Reserves, an eight-day loan spell at Southampton and a place on the bench at Old Trafford - it’s fair to say it has been a whirlwind season for James Shea.
The young goalkeeper had yet to represent the second string this term when he helped Capello and his players, who were training at London Colney, with their preparations for a Euro 2012 qualifier against Bulgaria in August.
He quickly became first-choice for Neil Banfield’s Reserves and turned in some impressive displays, going on to make 11 appearances during the season. Shea provided valuable first-team back-up to Wojciech Szczesny in the New Year with Lukasz Fabianski and Manuel Almunia sidelined by injury.
His development was rewarded with a contract extension in February.
He joined Southampton on a temporary one-month deal soon after but spent just eight days on the south coast before being recalled by Arsenal due to an injury to Szczesny. The 19-year-old was quickly drafted in as Almunia’s deputy for a trip to Manchester United in the FA Cup and took his place on the bench.
Highly regarded within the Club, expect to see Shea continue his progress with a slightly longer loan stint next season.
“I wasn’t nervous [at Old Trafford] to be honest. I just try to see it as playing a game of football with my mates. I felt quite cool, calm and collected but it was amazing. I remember watching Arsenal versus Manchester United games when I was younger and I always thought I would love to be there one day.”
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Shea was the first player to run out for his warm-up at Old Trafford and received a magnificent reception from the travelling 9,000 Arsenal fans before taking his seat on the bench.
James Shea warms up at Old Trafford