Fleetwood’s number one stays focused

Chris Maxwell
Chris Maxwell
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Chris Maxwell insists his focus won’t be broken by continuing talk of a Welsh call-up.

The keeper has been continually snubbed by national team boss Chris Coleman, despite the current back-up options to Wayne Hennessey being Liverpool youngster Danny Ward, who played just five competitive games this season for League Two Morecambe, and Owain-Fon-Williams, relegated with Tranmere.

Maxwell played every game for Fleetwood this season and won both the players’ player of the season (shared with Stephen Jordan) and fans’ player of the season awards at Highbury.

And he made it clear Fleetwood will always come first.

“I’m a Fleetwood player. I think of Fleetwood Town first and foremost,” he said. “If a Welsh call comes, it’s a bonus.

“But this is my bread and butter. I’ve got to make sure I do myself justice here.

“If I do that, good things will happen.”

Maxwell’s double award swoop is the icing on the cake in a memorable 18 months which have seen him transformed from bit part player to first-choice stopper.

And he made it clear the recognition should be shared.

“I think a lot of the lads have played really well this year,” said Maxwell.

“To be part of that and to play every game has been a big thing for me.

“I don’t mind coming out being the best player in other people’s eyes.

“It’s crazy but I’ve had a lot of help, especially through Dave Lucas, and the gaffer and Chris Lucketti.

“The awards aren’t just for me – they’re for everyone who’s helped over the last nine months.”

Maxwell’s story at Fleetwood is a genuine tale of two halves.

Signed by Micky Mellon following the club’s promotion from The Conference, the 24-year-old found it hard to dislodge Scott Davies from the number one spot.

He was loaned out to former club Wrexham after Graham Alexander took over at Highbury, spending a second spell away from the club at Cambridge United.

It wasn’t until February 2014 that he made his Fleetwood debut at Wycombe Wandereres and the keeper hasn’t missed a game since.

“18 months ago I was playing in the Conference,” he told The Gazette.

“Now I’m playing in League One every week and winning personal awards. It’s a crazy time. It seems a short time but a long time ago too.

“It’s been a fantastic ride, one I’ve thoroughly enjoyed and one I’m determined to stay on.”

Despite making the keeper’s jersey his own, Maxwell insists he is kept on his toes – not least by the recent addition of Swiss/American keeper Brendan Moore.

He said: “I’ve got to think that no matter which keeper comes in, which young lads are in on trial, you’ve got to consistently make sure you perform day in, day out in training, never mind in games.

“I’m a very competitive person. I like to be the best in everything I do – no more so than when I push myself and try to make myself better and better every day. That’s what I’ll always keep doing.”

One man no longer challenging him for a starting spot is coach David Lucas, who has been Town’s back-up keeper on and off. But Maxwell made it clear the former Preston and Swindon stopper was still playing a massive part.

“I think he’s forced himself to hang the shirt up,” he joked.

“He still shows me how to do it in training every day.

“He was a fantastic goalkeeper, and I’m just grateful he can pass all that knowledge and ability down to me.”

Town face Port Vale on Sunday, looking to end their debut League One campaign on a high and secure a top-10 finish.

And Maxwell insists his mind is still on the current campaign.

He said: “I’m just thinking about Sunday and making sure I play well.

“You never know what’s round the corner. You’ve just got to focus on the next match.

“We’ll start thinking about next season when we come in for pre-season.

“Let’s hope for another successful year, even more so that this one.”