Manchester City goalkeeping challenge

Khiara Keating of Manchester City in action.
Khiara Keating of Manchester City in action during the Barclays FA Women's Super League match against Arsenal at The Academy Stadium on January 23, 2022. (Photo by Naomi Baker/Getty Images)

When Khiara Keating made her senior debut for Manchester City, many assumed the then 17-year-old would spend much of her goalkeeping time as a substitute.

The club already had three seasoned goalkeepers in Karen Bardsley, Ellie Roebuck and Karima Taieb. The wealth of talent saw Keating seemingly take the spot as the fourth-choice keeper.

Her debut against Leicester however, saw the No. 35 prove she was a serious contender in the race for the starting spot. The 5-0 win in the league cup saw the teenager selected ahead of Taieb, with Roebuck and Bardsley unavailable through injury. Keating would remain between the sticks for several games in the absence of Roebuck, conceding just two goals in that time.

Manchester City’s goalkeeping shifts

The 2022/23 season saw huge changes made in City’s goalkeeping ranks. The departure of Taieb was quickly followed by the signing of England international Sandy Maciver. The retirement of club legend Bardsley saw City name one of the youngest goalkeeping squads in the WSL.

Throughout these transitions, Roebuck remained Gareth Taylor’s first-choice keeper for the majority of games. Keating would start just two league games throughout the campaign. The No. 35 would also make a substitute appearance on the final day of the season. Maciver would make three league appearances across the season conceding two goals. 

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Getting into Manchester City

As the summer transfer window opened, rumours circled around Roebuck’s future at the club. Many believed the No. 1 would depart Manchester, leaving Maciver as the first-choice keeper. Ultimately the 24-year-old would remain at the club, however following the World Cup it was clear something had changed.

The opening match against West Ham saw Keating in the starting eleven. The teenager preserved a clean sheet in the tie with Roebuck named on the bench. The No. 1 has been absent from the matchday squad on several occasions, most notably during City’s recent draw to Chelsea. Since then Keating has started every league game for the Sky Blues with Maciver given the nod for City’s 2-1 League Cup win over Everton. 

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Debut England call-up

The October international break saw Keating receive her first senior call-up to the Lionesses’ squad. Excellent performances for her club alongside consistent minutes saw the teenager given the nod following Maciver’s transition to the Scotland National Team. Whilst Keating is unlikely to see any minutes during England’s two games against Belgium, the camp will provide the teenager valuable first-team experience in the senior setting.

Roebuck will be all too familiar with the journey Keating is currently on. The 24-year-old was also tipped as the future No. 1 for both club and country. Rising to prominence as Bardsley’s career was drawing to its conclusion, Roebuck was England’s first-choice keeper for some time. Since the resurrection of Mary Earps’ international career, however, the 24-year-old has fallen out of favour.

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For Keating, many believe her journey to becoming the first-choice goalkeeper for both her club and country is just beginning. Her recent success with Manchester City has proven the teenager to be a key asset in Taylor’s team. The mature and composed display by the teenager throughout a difficult meeting with Chelsea dispelled many people’s concerns that the No. 35 needed more time to develop her game. The youngster seems to have taken to her new role at club level with ease, with Taylor frequently applauding his youngest star’s performance.

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