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Twelve Days Of Transfermas: Eleven Backup Keepers

We continue our look at the possibilities of the January transfer window with a look at goalkeepers who could serve to deputize The Belgian Waffle himself, Simon Mignolet.

Nothing personal, Brad.
Nothing personal, Brad.
Scott Heavey

We all love us some Simon Mignolet. I think that's pretty easy to agree on at this stage. The Belgian has been a revelation this season, generally exceeding anyone's expectations with how well he's done between the sticks for Liverpool this season.

But what if something were to happen to Mignolet? Currently the reserve crop consists of Brad Jones and Daniel Ward. All due respect to the Australian and the young Welshman, but that's not exactly a bastion of confidence. Jones has only made sporadic appearances since his arrival from Middlesbrough three and a half years ago, but he's rarely looked more than acceptable in that time, and has often left fans wanting. Ward is 19, untested, and not generally thought to have any more potential than Jones.

So that leaves a need for a better set of hands available in the (hopefully rare) case Mignolet isn't. What should we look for, though? A veteran with at least some record of success would be a good starting point, but it also has to be someone who is willing to only play periodically. Given the likelihood that Liverpool will have extra matches through continental competition next season, giving that backup the domestic cup matches and some continental and league matches against low-level opposition could potentially be enough playing time to keep them happy.

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Andreas Isaksson, 32, Kasimpasa SK (Turkey)

Isaksson only moved to Turkey in the summer of 2012, but did so on a free, so if Kasimpasa is willing to sell the veteran Swede, it shouldn't cost too much. However, Kasimpasa is currently a surprising second in the Turkish Süper Lig, just one point ahead of Besiktas and Galatasaray. Given that he has been a significant part of the club's success (conceding 13 goals and keeping three clean sheets in 12 matches), they might not be willing to part with him, but it'd be worth checking in to, because he's arguably the best 'keeper on this list.

Isaksson has never been draped in glory, but he's always done a solid job everywhere he's been (and he's been all over the continent). His best success came with PSV Eindhoven in the Dutch Eredivise over the past four seasons, making 174 appearances for the club, including appearances in the Champions League and Europa. He's mostly been a backup, though, including a two-year stint at Manchester City, so he's already familiar with the pace and style of the EPL.

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Jan Lastuvka, 31, Dnipro Dnipropetrovsk (Ukraine)

Lastuvka has been Dnipro's starting netminder for several years, but injury has kept him out of the lineup for all but two matches this season, and his replacement, Denys Boyko, has done tremendously well in his stead. That means the Czech international could easily be available, and would make a marvelous second to Simon Mignolet. Like Isaksson, he has some experience both in continental play and in the EPL with Fulham and West Ham, so his adjustment would be minimal.

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Zydrunas Karcemarskas, 30, Gaziantepspor (Turkey)

Returning to Turkey, we have Karcemarskas, the starting 'keeper for Lithuania and sometime starter Gaziantepspor, a traditionally midtable side in Turkey's top division. While it's likely that he'd rather get more playing time, I'm sure a move to a higher paycheck and a much more prestigious club would be more than enough to paper over playing time concerns. Karcemarskas

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Alex McCarthy, 24, Reading FC

Turning our eyes to closer shores, we look at the starter for recently-relegated Reading. What McCarthy brings that the others listed above don't is something potentially quite important: home-grown status for the purposes of roster construction. You must keep at least eight on your roster in both the EPL and for European competition or else be forced to keep roster spots open and work with a reduced squad. Liverpool currently have nine, including Brad Jones and the on-loan Victor Moses, so collecting a home-grown backup would be far from a bad idea.

McCarthy is a decent keeper, though nothing to write home about. He certainly represents an upgrade over Jones, though, and could improve with some more playing time. It's likely to be a bit of a gamble, but as far as "buying English" goes, he should be a fairly inexpensive one.

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Mark Bunn, 29, Norwich City

Staying on English shores, Bunn is Norwich City's current backup 'keeper. While his best days came in the Championship, he has shown enough skill during his career to believe that he'd be a perfectly capable backup for Liverpool, plus he has the added benefit of being home-grown like McCarthy. It's also likely that he'd enjoy being part of a team that doesn't seem destined for a protracted relegation battle, which would be a distinct benefit from his perspective.

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Others to think about: Tom Heaton, 27, Burnley FC; Andy Lonergan, 30, Bolton Wanderers; Sinan Bolat, 25, FC Porto (Portugal); Jan Mucha, 31, Krylya Sovetov Samara (Russia); Javi Varas, 31, Sevilla (Spain); Ben Hamer, 26, Charlton

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