Niki Maenpaa has sealed a short-term deal at Stoke City as Michael O’Neill prepares for a few more weeks without Adam Davies and Angus Gunn.
The former Bristol City keeper has joined as back-up and as training partner to Joe Bursik and Blondy Nna Noukeu on a short-term deal until the middle of January.
He joined in training for the first time on Thursday and is expected to be with the squad at Sheffield Wednesday today.
O’Neill said: “We had to sign another goalkeeper because the injuries to the two keepers – they could be out for a number of weeks. Adam Davies has already been out for a number of weeks.
“It means we have a very inexperienced goalkeeping department. We haven’t signed the goalkeeper based on how Joe has played in two games, we were signing a goalkeeper anyway but we just haven’t had the chance to do it.
“They don’t grow on trees, goalkeepers, when you’re in this situation. We were very restricted in what the league allows us to do.
“When we brought Joe back we were then restricted to the free agent market and before we made that decision we were restricted to an emergency loan, which we couldn’t go to the Premier League for.
“We were very, very limited and as soon as we brought Joe back we knew we would need experienced cover as well.
“We only have young Blondy, who’s 19 as well, and to go into the Championship for a sustained period with goalkeepers who are 19 and 20, I think would be a poor decision for us to make as a club.
“Niki has come in. He’s been without a club since the summer and it’s going to take him a bit of time – although he was excellent in training (on Thursday) to be fair. That’s what we want. We have that strength in depth should we need it.
“We play every three days, we’ve already seen a goalkeeper leave the field because of injury and we could see a goalkeeper sent off, for example, so it’s important to have experience in that situation.”
Why Stoke are conceding so many goals and how they can fix it
This week’s column from Mike Pejic.
“If you want to see why Stoke City are conceding goals at the moment you have to look at what they do when they have the ball.
“We have praised Stoke for their attacking work this season and they can tighten up at the other end without losing that threat. I’m afraid it will take a lot of hard work and repetition on the training ground. It has to be drilled in.
“Eddie Jones, England’s rugby coach, made a pertinent point before the Ireland match last weekend: “In every game there’s a key contest you have to win.”
“Against Norwich that key contest was getting it right when we lost possession – and three times we were caught out.”
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Latest on Steven Fletcher and Jordan Thompson
Stoke City will be without Steven Fletcher for a match against his old club Sheffield Wednesday – and Jordan Thompson also remains in the treatment room.
Fletcher has been a key man for Michael O’Neill since leaving Hillsborough at the end of June and formed an exciting triumvirate with Nick Powell and Tyrese Campbell – with Stoke the second highest scorers in the Championship.
But the 33-year-old limped out of a 3-2 defeat to Norwich on Tuesday night after careering into an advertising board after sliding to get a shot at goal.
He will continue to be assessed as Stoke then travel to Wycombe Wanderers next Wednesday before a home match against high-flying Middlesbrough.