Wagenaar eyes place in Bairns' starting line-up

NEW Falkirk goalkeeper Josh Wagenaar is ready to fight it out for the No. 1 jersey at Falkirk.

The 24-year-old, who has won two full international caps for Canada, signed a one-year deal at Westfield this week.

And he believes the competition he faces from Robert Olejnik to get a starting place in the first team will only make him a better player.

"As far as age is concerned, myself and Bobby are still quite young for goalkeepers but we both want to be playing first team football on a regular basis," Wagenaar told Heraldsport.

"And I am sure that having to fight for the number one spot will only improve us further. That will be my aim but I know it will require a lot of hard work."

Canadian born Wagenaar attended Hartwick College in New York State where he played in the NCAA Division One. During his time there, he won several of his 18 under-20 international caps and helped his country qualify for the U20 World Cup in Holland.

While in his third year in the USA, he won a move to Dutch side ADO Den Haag during season 2006-07, where he turned professional. A short spell in Denmark with Lyngby BK followed, but only two starts led to a subsequent trial with Leeds United.

The Elland Road club did not offer Wagenaar a contract yet he did win a move to English League One side Yeovil Town. He competed with fellow Canadian internationalist Asmir Begovic at Huish Park and finally took over his jersey when the Bosnian-born player's loan deal from Portsmouth came to an end, playing 23 times as a result.

"I think that this move to Falkirk is a natural progression for me," Wagenaar went on. "Every country has been a very good experience and each club has expected something different from their goalkeepers so I've learned a lot. That, in turn, has definitely allowed me to progress as a player.

"It's a step up moving to this club but now I want to prove that I have what it takes to play in the SPL as well.

"I've already played a couple of times as a trialist, against Royal Antwerp and Livingston, and it was good to get two wins. I thought I did pretty well and was delighted to land a contract as a result.

"I've been very impressed with the club and I think the facilities at Stirling are fantastic. As well as all the pitches and the club pavillion, having other things like the gym, swimming pool and all the sports science equipment is something that will help in my development.

"And I feel I already know quite a lot about this league after watching it on TV and learning a lot from a couple of Scottish boys I was at college with in the States. It is very competitive and there are a number of quality fixtures so I can't wait to get started."

Bairns boss Eddie May was thrilled to land his seventh summer signing following the trial period, and subsequent negotiations with Wagenaar's agent, which lasted two weeks.

"Our goalkeeper coach, Jim Preston, was full of praise and I think his training performances and how he performed in the two friendlies were excellent," said May.

"He is a safe keeper, very similar to Bobby, has a great work ethic and has settled in very well.

"We definitely need at least two guys at this kind of level competing for the number one jersey, although Bobby has it at this moment, and my thanks again go to the board and the Falkirk fans, who have bought more than 3000 season tickets, for allowing this signing to be possible."

Meanwhile, Wagenaar's move to Westfield has allowed Scotland under-21 internationalist Jamie Barclay to go out on loan to East Stirlingshire for the entire Third Division campaign.

"It is very important to try and enhance what Jamie already has and build on his experiences from last season when he was on loan with East Stirlingshire and Berwick Rangers," added May.

"He'll get the chance to do that in the Third Division, playing regularly in a first team rather than reserve football, which could be few and far this season between anyway.

"And, as well as playing nearly every Saturday, Jamie will also be able to come back to Stirling during the week to train and continue his development with Falkirk."