Former England goalkeeper Paul Robinson has backed West Ham’s decision to pursue West Brom’s Sam Johnstone as he feels they need a change in goal.
The 28-year-old has been tipped to leave the Hawthorns after the Baggies slipped back into the Championship. The Preston-born shot-stopper has made 131 appearances for Albion since joining from Manchester United in July 2018. He started 37 of West Brom’s 38 Premier League games in 2020-2021 but could not keep them afloat.
And it was enough for Gareth Southgate to name him in England’s squad for the delayed European Championship. Lukasz Fabianski is the Hammers’ current number one and signed a new one-year deal back in March.
The 36-year-old has spent three seasons in the East End and been backed for another year. Robinson is a big fan of the Poland international. But he feels Johnstone is the man they should now turn to.
“Fabianski has done brilliantly for them over the years but given his age and the stage of his career that he is at, they need to look at a contingency plan,” he told Football Insider. “Johnstone is a top, top goalkeeper and he has proved that with his performances this season.
“Two good English goalkeepers have dropped down to the Championship this year but I’d definitely sign Johnstone ahead of Aaron Ramsdale.”
Johnstone at home in Premier League
Johnstone began his career at Old Trafford. He was on the Red Devils’ books for seven years but failed to make a single appearance.
The rangy keeper enjoyed many loan spells away from United. He spent time at Oldham, Scunthorpe United, Walsall, Yeovil Town, Doncaster Rovers, Preston North End and Aston Villa.
But last season was his first taste of the top flight. And Robinson believes the experience of playing in a struggling side proves that he can hack it at the top level.
“Johnstone was put under a lot of pressure this season and even though they were relegated, he showed that he is more than capable of being a Premier League number one,” he added.
Rivals Tottenham are also said to hold an interest in the player. Hugo Lloris is the north Londoners undisputed first-choice but the Frenchman is now 34.
He cannot go on for ever and has become more error prone in recent seasons. But it was reported earlier this month that West Ham are ahead of Spurs in the race to sign Johnstone.
Robinson feels it would be wise for David Moyes to get him on board before other clubs enter the picture.