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Ali Al-Habsi on slow burn at Bolton Wanderers

"I came here to become a number one keeper at the club," the 25-year-old told the Bolton Evening News. "Maybe it's going to take a long time but after this I think everyone can see who Ali Al-Habsi is.

"They can see he is a good keeper from Oman and now I have a great chance of becoming a great keeper in the Premier League."

Wanderers' goalkeeping coach, Fred Barber, believes Al-Habsi has all the attributes to make the grade, although he has had to come to terms with the fact that he is behind Jaaskelainen, one of the top keepers in Europe and, at 32, at the peak of his form.

"I know what Ali can do but a lot of people don't," Barber said of his 6ft 4in pupil who joined Wanderers in January 2006.

"He was very impatient when he started off but then he realised how good Jussi was. After that he was OK, knowing he'd have to wait for his chance in the Carling Cup or the FA Cup.

"I thought he did well at Fulham but now the gaffer's seen him in the European cup game and that was fantastic for him.

"But he is still only 25 and if you look back to when Jussi got in the first team, how old was he? About the same.

"Look at Jussi now, at 32, he's in his prime and I think his best is still ahead of him."

Al-Habsi learned quickly that being rated the best keeper in Asia was no passport to Premiership selection.

"It's been a long time," he said, relieved at least to have finally made the senior grade while still waiting for his league debut.

"Two years at the club without any games . . . but Fred told me I would have to be patient. Jussi is a very, very good keeper; he's had 10 great years at the club.

"So when I get the chance I have to take it. I've done well and I think Fred and the gaffer are very happy with my performances."

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Tribal Football Staff

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