Aynsley Pears reveals Darren Randolph influence and Stoke City thoughts
Just six months ago Middlesbrough goalkeeper Aynsley Pears was preparing to sign for League Two side Macclesfield Town on loan – a move designed to give the young stopper more game time and valuable experience.
Back then, 21-year-old Pears was the third-choice keeper at the Riverside, behind the experienced Darren Randolph and Tomas Mejias.
Yet Pears has taken his opportunities to impress this season and is set to start his sixth successive Championship game when Boro host Stoke City on Friday night.
“I was about to sign for Macclesfield,” Pears tells the Mail when reflecting on pre-season. “It was nearly done and then Darren had a little problem with his leg.”
“I had to come back just to make sure he was right because if he wasn’t right they needed me. I ended up staying and I’m pleased I did.”
“At the start I was just on the bench supporting Darren and then he got injured which gave me a chance to play and I’ve loved every minute of it.”
Randolph, 32, may have been sidelined with a thigh injury in recent weeks but has still played a big part behind the scenes.
“He’s a great lad, great to train with and is just a good guy,” adds Pears when asked about the Republic of Ireland international.
“Since he’s been out he’s supported me and wished me luck, he’s really someone to look up too and just a good friend.”
Despite conceding three at Swansea last weekend, Pears has kept four clean sheets in the league this season.
The result at the Liberty Stadium has left the Teessiders just three points above the relegation zone ahead of back-to-back home games against Stoke and Huddersfield.
Pears knows just how important the two fixtures are, especially when both sides are close to Boro in the table.
“They are massive games,” he adds. “They are all big games but at home against teams around us, it would be lovely to get a few wins for Christmas for the fans and us.”