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Last Updated: Wednesday, 14 March 2007, 11:15 GMT
Hennessey toasts big future
By Chris Bevan

WAYNE'S STOCKPORT SHUT-OUTS
Wayne Hennessey
3 Mar Swindon H W3-0
20 Feb Walsall H W1-0
17 Feb Acc'gton A W1-0
10 Feb Mansfield H W1-0
3 Feb Hereford A W2-0
30 Jan Wrexham A W1-0
27 Jan Wycombe H W2-0
20 Jan P'boro A W3-0
13 Jan Boston H W2-0

All good things come to an end - but, for Wayne Hennessey, his extraordinary run of clean sheets for Stockport should just be the beginning.

The 20-year-old picked the ball out of the net for the first time in senior football - in his 10th match on loan from Wolves - as County lost 3-1 to Barnet on Saturday.

The previous nine matches all ended in victory for Stockport without Hennessey conceding a goal - a run that set a new Football League record as well as catapulting County into the League Two promotion frame.

Not bad for a rookie who had never played a first-team game before January.

And after 18 months out of the game with serious knee and shoulder injuries, the 6ft 7in Welsh Under-21 international is making up for lost time.

Hennessey, who was fourth-choice at Wolves, told BBC Sport: "This is my first taste of first-team football and it has whet my appetite for more.

"It is a massive chance for me to show what I can do because I wasn't getting an opportunity at Wolves. Hopefully I have done that.

"Being a goalkeeper you never know what is going to happen but obviously I have been delighted with the way it has gone.

"It was unbelievable to break the record - it is hard to take it all in."

The Bangor-born keeper is known as 'Van der Sar' by his County team-mates for his physical resemblance to Manchester United's Dutch star Edwin - they share the same elastic frame.

Nev has given me lots of information and told me I'd go far

Wayne Hennessey

But he has always looked up to one of his countrymen, Neville Southall, as his inspiration and hopes to follow the Everton legend into the full Wales team.

"I grew up watching Nev play and he was my manager when I played for the Wales Under-19 team," Hennessey explained.

"I told him he was my hero and he has given me lots of information and told me I would go far. If I am going to learn from someone then there is no-one better.

"It's my dream to play for Wales. Every Welshman would love to play for their country and knows how important it is."

Hennessey was overlooked by John Toshack for Wales' upcoming Euro 2008 qualifiers against the Republic of Ireland and San Marino, but his opportunity could still come soon.

"I just have to keep my head down and work hard," he added.

"The Welsh pool of players is not the biggest which hopefully means I might get my chance - it wouldn't just make my day, it would make my whole life."

Hennessey, a distant relation of 1960s Nottingham Forest and Wales wing-half Terry, has packed a lot into his short career so far.

As a schoolboy he was on Manchester City's books and spent most of his days outside lessons on the A55 on his way to working with academy coach Alex Williams.

After being released by City at the end of last season he joined Wolves, but his injuries returned and even stopped him playing during a loan spell with Bristol City earlier this season.

It's frustrating - after everything that has happened I would love to stay with County and try to help them win promotion

Hennessey on the imminent end of his loan spell

His international career has gone a little smoother - he has trained with the senior squad and even scored a goal, a 40-yard free-kick for the Under-19 team in the last minute against Turkey.

"I don't know how it went in, but it did. Because it was so late we pushed everyone up for a free-kick and Nev told me to take it."

Like Southall, Brian Flynn - the current Under-21 boss - has taken Hennessy under his wing and the keeper repaid him with another clean sheet against Northern Ireland in February.

But it is at club level where Hennessey is keen to establish himself now - and he already has to look beyond his successful stint with Stockport.

Whether or not the Hatters go up, Hennessey will not be between the sticks at Edgeley Park come May as his loan spell ends on 9 April.

"It's frustrating," Hennessey said. "After everything that has happened I would love to stay with County and try to help them win promotion.

"But ideally, once I'm back at Wolves I can do the same there too.

"Hopefully the manager Mick McCarthy has been keeping an eye on me and thinking 'he's our player' - and the record is only going to help.

"But whatever happens I won't forget my time at Stockport. It has been a dream start to my League career."



SEE ALSO
Hennessey's heroics secure award
04 Mar 07 |  Stockport
Stockport 3-0 Swindon
03 Mar 07 |  League Two
N Ireland U21 0-4 Wales U21
06 Feb 07 |  Internationals
Stockport 1-0 Walsall
20 Feb 07 |  League Two
Stockport extend Hennessey loan
13 Feb 07 |  Stockport
Hatters sign goalkeeper Hennessey
11 Jan 07 |  Stockport
Flynn unveils next U21 generation
05 Feb 07 |  Internationals


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