ANDY Rafferty admits that he would be betraying his own ambition did he not have designs on becoming Hartlepool United No.1.
The 25-year-old has spent the past three seasons as deputy to Scott Flinders, making just two league appearances in that period.
A serious knee injury kept him sidelined for the bulk of last term but the club still chose to extend his contract during the summer.
Rafferty enhanced his reputation during the recent tour of Holland and again looks set to keep goal at Whitby Town next week, Flinders needing extra time to recover from a minor hip complaint.
And it is that starting jersey upon which the former Guisborough Town custodian has set his sights.
“If I didn’t want Scott’s place then I would have no ambition,” he said today.
“I want to be the best I possibly can be, that means being a No.1.
“I don’t want to slip by the wayside and I don’t want to still be a reserve at 30 years old.
“I want to make as many league appearances as possible.
“I’ve got that ambition and that’s what I’m working towards.”
Rafferty is still relatively young in goalkeeping terms but he is equally conscious of a career passing him by.
His journey to this point has not been a conventional one and even included a period working in a supermarket having failed to make the grade as a teenager.
And he reflected: “I was told at the age of 16 that I wasn’t good enough by Darlington.
“I had trials at Reading, Southampton and Wigan but didn’t quite make it.
“I went into non-league and just worked my socks off.
“I kept focussed, worked part-time, didn’t go out drinking with my mates or anything and eventually got my trial at Hartlepool.
“So the hard work paid off in the end.
“But the hardest work is still ahead of me and that’s why my ambition is to be this club’s No.1 goalkeeper.”