Having recently seen his three-year spell with Southampton come to an end, MK Dons new boy Cody Cropper has expressed his gratitude to fellow goalkeeper Kelvin Davis for his guidance in recent seasons.
Cropper, 22, was speaking to Northern Pitch after signing a deal for the 2015-16 campaign with the Championship newcomers earlier this week, having left Southampton when his contract expired last month.
The American shot-stopper first moved to England in 2010 to begin his professional career with Ipswich Town, before linking up with the Saints in the summer of 2012 following his release.
He would go on to feature for the Premier League club’s Under-21s on a regular basis but never managed to make a senior appearance due to strong competition from the likes of Fraser Forster, Paulo Gazzaniga and veteran Davis.
However, he has stressed that he still gained some valuable experience during his time on the South Coast, thanks in no small part to the latter’s help.
“Kelvin Davis had a massive impact on my career,” he told Northern Pitch. “I think he helped me through a lot there. He would always invite me over to his house for dinner, or take me under his wing at training if I had a bad session, or help talk me through times when things weren’t OK.
“He was always there in bad times and always there in good times. I still talk with him and I still talk with Fraser [Forster], quite regularly, because I bonded with them, bonded with Kelvin over the past three years and Fraser over the past year, and I think they’re both very good people, and I hope they’d say the same about me.”
Continuing on his Saints departure, Copper added: “I think it’s for the best in my career. It’s always tough to leave a club after you’ve played with for three years, and move away from the guys that you’ve developed a relationship with.
“But I think that the move away from there is definitely better for me because I’m at a club now where I’m working to earn game time, pushing to earn game time. And at Southampton, the reality of that wasn’t very high.”
Despite his lack of first-team action, Cropper is the US Under-23s first-choice keeper and has even been involved with the senior squad on several occasions since his first call-up in August 2013.
He is still to earn his first cap, however, while head coach Jurgen Klinsmann now has the likes of Brad Guzan, Tim Howard, Nick Rimando, Bill Hamid, William Yarbrough and Sean Johnson all ahead of him on his depth chart.
With Under-20 starter Zack Steffen also breathing down his neck, the Minnesota-native is in danger of falling out of the picture without regular minutes, but the drop down the Championship might just prove the move needed to kick-start his career.
Unseating long-time Dons number one David Martin will be a far from straightforward task but, with what he has learned from mentors like Davis, he seems well prepared for the challenge.