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Mitch drawn to Derby by goalkeeping coach Steele

By Burton Mail  |  Posted: June 05, 2014

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NEW signing Jonathan Mitchell says he is relishing the chance to work with “legend” Eric Steele at Derby County.

Goalkeeper Mitchell has agreed a one-year deal with the Rams.

The 19-year-old will officially join the club on a free transfer when his contract with Newcastle United expires at the end of this month.

And the chance to learn from former Manchester United goalkeeping coach Eric Steele appears to have been too good an opportunity to turn down.

“I am really happy to sign for Derby County,” said Mitchell. “It’s a club on the up, who narrowly missed out on promotion this year.

“I’ve really enjoyed training with the club and it’s been great working under Eric Steele.

“He’s a legend in the game, having worked with players like Edwin van der Sar and David de Gea at Manchester United – and, hopefully, he can improve me.

“He is ‘the man’ in the goalkeeping world, so he was certainly a massive draw.”

Mitchell will be looking to provide competition for the likes of Lee Grant and Kelle Roos next season.

“It looks as though there are a lot of talented goalkeepers here,” he said.

“Hopefully, we can improve each other and make sure we’re the best we can possibly be.

“The main aim is to push the goalkeepers all the way, work as hard as I can in the gym and on the training field and, hopefully, be the best I can be.”

Hartlepool-born Mitchell made his reserve-team debut for Newcastle aged 15 and travelled to Italy with the development squad to take part in the Torneo di Viareggio tournament a month later, playing against the likes of AC Milan and Internazionale.

While he never made a senior appearance for the Magpies, he gained some first-team experience on loan at Conference North side Workington.

“It was a good, hard league – a really difficult league,” said the teenager. “It was great to play men’s football.

“I’ve been at Newcastle for about four years, so it was quite hard to leave but that’s football, you’ve just got to get on with it.

“It’ll probably take a bit of getting used to but I feel I can move away. I don’t think it’ll make me a worse footballer or anything like that.

“I’m looking forward to it. This is a new challenge in my life.

“I’m desperate for pre-season to come around. We are back in on June 25 and then start again for the new season.

“But we have all got our own programme to be getting on with, so that’ll keep me busy.”

Mitchell also played rugby union and cricket with some distinction before focusing on football.

“I came into football quite late, I suppose,” he said. “I played for the (Newcastle) Falcons in rugby and Durham Cricket Club.

“I don’t know if I could have made it professionally, but I enjoyed playing them as a kid.”

League One sides Barnsley and Sheffield United have been linked with a loan move for Derby defender Mark O’Brien.

O’Brien’s last senior appearance for the Rams came in February 2013, before he underwent surgery on a knee injury.

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