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The Shouting Men column: Gillingham goalkeeper Jack Bonham on clean sheets, fan flak and why former Liverpool man Pepe Reina is his favourite stopper

We’re up to 13 clean sheets in the league after the draw at Lincoln.

The back four has stayed the same recently and we’ve built up a good relationship.

Jack Bonham replaced Tomas Holy at the start of the 2019/20 season Picture: Ady Kerry
Jack Bonham replaced Tomas Holy at the start of the 2019/20 season Picture: Ady Kerry

They’ve made it very easy for me and in a lot of games I’ve only had two or three saves to make, or sometimes one.

You’ve got different parts in goalkeeping, like sweeping up and crosses, and if you get one thing wrong it can result in a goal so you have to keep your concentration.

I just try and be as consistent as I can. I feel if I do that the clean sheets will hopefully come in good numbers.

I try to be a calming influence on the back four as well.

I’m quite calm, quite relaxed, so I try and give them confidence in terms of if I’m relaxed, they can be relaxed, knowing I’m there when needed.

We’ve just clicked as a unit – everyone’s been so consistent. Connor Ogilvie’s moved to left-back and Jack Tucker’s come in at centre-back and it’s just worked for us.

If we get the goals, we know we aren’t going to concede many because we haven’t all season.

You can build a great platform when you aren’t conceding many goals.

Jack Bonham says Jack Tucker has made a difference in defence Picture: Ady Kerry
Jack Bonham says Jack Tucker has made a difference in defence Picture: Ady Kerry

I know it sounds cliched to say this when we’re 15 unbeaten, but we are just taking it game by game.

We’re going out to win and if we remain unbeaten, we remain unbeaten.

It’s not our sole focus to remain unbeaten because we want to win games to try and push for the play-offs.

But when it gets to the last five or 10 minutes, if you’re drawing, you don’t want to go gung-ho and maybe lose that run because when you’re up against teams it can be a big factor for them to look at you and go, ‘hang on a minute, they’re 15 games unbeaten’.

Psychologically it can really help you and it gives you great confidence in the changing room.

I knew I was replacing a popular goalkeeper at Gillingham in Tomas Holy but I didn’t focus too much on that when I signed.

Tomas got his move to Ipswich and if someone’s popular and they’ve done that well, that’s great for them.

If I’d started badly the crowd might have got on my back but the focus was just on myself to come in and settle in as quickly as I possibly could and play as well as I know I can.

I came off a good season at Bristol Rovers last year, where I kept 15 clean sheets, so I was just trying to keep that form going and bring what I know I can to the changing room.

The crowd have been brilliant with me. I’m obviously the closest one to them at times and to know they’re behind me and have my back gives me great confidence.

Opposition fans tend to give you a bit of stick but I try and stay quite chilled on the pitch.

I find some of the stuff quite funny, but some of it baffles me.

At Southend I got a bit of abuse after we scored and I turned round and said, ‘I didn’t score, what are you shouting at me for?’ and he said, ‘Yeah, fair point’.

You just take it with a pinch of salt and normally just laugh it off and try and stay as focused as possible.

I’m never malicious or nasty, I just try and take it as a joke and I might have a bit of banter with them and see what comes back. I quite enjoy it.

There was a bit of talk in the papers last year about getting a call-up to the Republic of Ireland squad but nothing was ever said to me.

I’m just going to keep doing what I’m doing and if I get called up, I get called up. It would be a great honour to play for my country.

You must be doing something right if there’s talk about it, so it’s a good thing, but my focus is on Gillingham and doing as well as we can here.

Shay Given was a great Irish keeper but my inspiration was Pepe Reina and it’s great to see him back in the Premier League with Aston Villa.

I’m a Liverpool fan and he was someone I watched all the time.

He was the first, or one of the first, to bring the sidewinder to the Premier League and he was a big role model.

He’s had a great career and done great things with loads of different clubs.

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