Aberdeen keeper Rogers wishes injured Lewis well but is determined to stay as No1

Aberdeen goalkeeper Danny Rogers.

Keeper Danny Rogers waited patiently for his Dons debut and now it has finally arrived he is determined to fight for the No1 position.

Rogers has been at Pittodrie for six years but his first start only came in the 3-1 defeat of Kilmarnock at the weekend.

The breakthrough is bitter sweet for the 23-year-old as it came due to the serious injury suffered by Joe Lewis.

An ever-present since signing in summer 2016, Lewis, 30, will this week undergo surgery on ligament damage to his left knee sustained in the 2-0 loss to Rangers at Ibrox.

Lewis is expected to be sidelined for up to two months.

Rogers grabbed his chance when it came with a rock-solid display against Killie. But Dons boss Derek McInnes aims to sign a keeper before the transfer window closes at midnight tomorrow.

Aberdeen have been linked with a loan move for Newcastle United keeper Freddie Woodman, 20, an Under-20 World Cup winner with England.

Woodman, who was on loan at Kilmarnock for the second half of last season, is third choice at St James’ Park.

Rogers expects McInnes to bring in another keeper but is determined to stay ahead of any new addition in the Pittodrie pecking order.

Rogers said: “I am sure the manager will bring in another keeper, but when he does I will welcome the challenge.

“I will have tunnel vision and focus on myself.

“I can only take it game by game and show the manager what I can do. Hopefully that sticks in his head.”

Rogers spent three seasons on loan in the Championship at Falkirk (2015-17) and Dumbarton (2014-15) before returning to Pittodrie last summer.

His task was formidable, to wrestle the No1 spot from Lewis who was named in the Premiership Team of the Year last season and featured in every minute of action since his signing in summer 2016.

Rogers admits there was a concern he would never get game time ahead of Lewis.

That it came via a serious injury to his friend is not the scenario he wanted – but he will still grab the opportunity.

He said: “Joe is a tough opponent so there was that at the back of my head, ‘would I ever make an appearance?’

“Obviously I would never wish an injury on anybody and I hope Joe gets back as quick as he can.

“We get on really well but I had to be ready – and I feel like I am ready to go take my chance.”

Goalkeeper is a unique position that can often lead to months of isolation on the bench. Outfield players can come on as substitutes to get game time and sharpness.

That is a luxury not allowed those between the sticks. Alan Sillitoe’s sixties novel The Loneliness Of The Long Distance Runner could easily be transposed to life for a No2. For Rogers there is only one option – retain focus to be ready for a call-up.

He said: “Outfield players can come off the bench but as a keeper you can be sitting there for months … years.

“You always need to keep ticking over to make sure you are ready when the time comes.

“You need to be a bit selfish I suppose and just make sure you are working hard and doing all the right things.

“Having that tunnel vision is important.”

Rogers may have had to wait for his competitive Dons debut but he is no rookie. He was named in the Championship team of the year in 2015-16 ahead of Rangers No 1 Wes Foderingham.

That was reward for his role in Falkirk’s promotion push, which only ended with play-off defeat to Kilmarnock.

He has been capped nine times by the Republic of Ireland at U21 level.

USA-born Rogers was also called up to the Republic’s full squad in September 2016 for World Cup Qualifiers against Moldova and Georgia.

With that CV, was it disheartening to be warming the bench at Pittodrie? “Not really,” he said.

“Training with Joe and Gordon Marshall (goalkeeping coach) every day is almost like a challenge as Joe sets the standards so high.

“It is good in that sense so I was not annoyed that I am not playing.

“I am almost looking up to Joe as a senior goal-keeper and he has helped me a lot this season.”

Rogers came on as a substitute in the 2-0 loss to Rangers when Lewis was stretchered off following a collision with Josh Windass.

His first act was to lift the ball out of the net as he was unable to save the penalty awarded for the collision that led to Lewis’ injury.

However, he grabbed his chance against Kilmarnock with impressive saves to deny Jordan Jones and Stephen O’Donnell.

He said: “My time at Falkirk was brilliant as they did really well and that prepared me so I don’t think there were too many issues with me going in against Kilmarnock.

“I was delighted to get my first start as I have been at Aberdeen a long time now and it felt like it was a long time coming.

“When their goal went in I thought ‘oh no, this is not going well’.

“But in the second half we came out and did really well and I managed to keep a couple of shots out.

“It was good to get out there and showcase myself. I was delighted to get a few saves in.

“We came in at half time and the gaffer had clear instructions for us and we put them into place. When we went ahead we really dominated which is what we should be doing at Pittodrie.”

Aberdeen face Ross County in Dingwall tomorrow just hours before the window closes – with McInnes targeting a keeper before the midnight deadline.

Rogers said: “Three points at Ross County and then the same against Hamilton on Saturday will get us right back on track after Ibrox.”