St Mirren’s Jim Goodwin hopeful of keeping ‘best in Scotland’ Vaclav Hladky

St Mirren goalkeeper Vaclav Hladky is the best stopper in the Scottish Premiership, according to his manager Jim Goodwin. The 28-year-old kept Saints in the top flight this summer with three penalty saves in the Premiership play-off final against Dundee United and his performances did not go unnoticed, neither here nor further afield.

Vaclav Hladky is in the shop window at St Mirren. Picture: SNS.
Vaclav Hladky is in the shop window at St Mirren. Picture: SNS.

Saints knocked back a £200,000 offer from Qarabag for the Czech keeper in this transfer window but Goodwin expects that a move away from the club is inevitable if Hladky sustains his performance level.

The Irishman, though, is optimistic that he will be between the sticks for another season to offer weight to St Mirren’s campaign. “I’m not being disrespectful to any of the guys at Celtic or Rangers or Joe Lewis at Aberdeen for that matter,” he said. “Prior to coming in I had a fair idea of how good Vaclav was. I had seen him live three times last season and then I watched both play-off games on the telly.

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“I just can’t get over how good he is. If he was three or four inches taller he would probably be playing down in the English Premier League. We know we are going to have a job on our hands to hang on to him. I’m confident we’ll keep him for the rest of the season.

“It would be stupid now of us to sell him when we don’t have enough time to replace him. I’m led to believe a bid came in from Qarabag a few weeks ago. It wasn’t anywhere near where we would expect it to be.

“In fairness to Vaclav he could easily have thrown his toys out of the pram and demanded to go because financially it would have been a rewarding one for him, no doubt. Hindsight is a great thing, it’s a pity we didn’t sign him on a five-year deal with a million-pound get-out clause.

“He and his agents aren’t daft. They have come here to put him in the shop window. If that works out well for both parties then great.”

Hladky can expect to showcase his abilities this afternoon as St Mirren host Rangers. Saints served up a surprise last weekend with a win over Aberdeen, with similar levels of organisation required if they are to engineer anything from this afternoon’s meeting.

Goodwin spent plenty of time watching Steven Gerrard from the Anfield terraces but was coy on being over enthusiastic about his opposite number today. “I hate when you read, ‘I’m a fan of Steven Gerrard’ and all that,” he said.

“When I was living in Manchester, for the eight years I was down there, we tried to get over to Anfield as often as we could. We went to a few Champions League nights, one of the games in the build-up to Turkey and was pleased to be part of that.

“He’s not surprised me but he’s adapted to management like a duck to water because I know how difficult it is going from playing 
into managing, having done it at Alloa.

“To go straight in at the deep end at a club of the magnitude of Rangers, where the expectation is so big, you’ve got to give him credit for that.”