The number one shirt and the title of the club’s most experienced keeper has been a long time coming for Fleetwood Town’s Alex Cairns.
The keeper only made his first EFL start for Town in November 2016, keeping a clean sheet in the 1-0 win over Chesterfield – and the rest is history.
Now the 25-year-old is preparing to start his first season with the number one jersey following Chris Neal’s departure for Salford City.
He knows, however, that there is fierce competition behind him from Matty Urwin and Billy Crellin.
However, he understands their situation after lengthy spells as the back-up keeper at Leeds United, Rotherham United and Chesterfield before finally making his mark at Town.
He said: “It is nice for me because it is the first time in my career where I am being looked at as the senior one in the keeper department.
“I know what it is like to be Billy and Matty; I’ve been in the same positions as them too.
“I will help them as much as I can because if they are pushing me it is only going to make me better.
“I am more than happy to work with the lads and Dave Lucas (goalkeeping coach) and, going into the new season, I’m really excited again.”
But though he is willing to help, Cairns is determined to ensure he does not lose the number one shirt any time soon.
He said: “As a goalkeeper all the way through my life I’ve worked hard and always wanted a number one shirt at a professional club.
“To actually be the number one, for me, it is an honour,
“I’m proud and my family are buzzing.
“But now I have to keep the shirt and make sure everyone knows I am number one.”