Fabian Spiess set for full Notts County debut, after playing on front of one man, his dog and Man United
FABIAN Spiess has performed in front of one man, his dog and Manchester United so the prospect of making his full debut for Notts County in front of a big crowd at Portsmouth tonight does not faze the teenager.
He might only have played for the Magpies' youth team and on loan at non-league Lewes and Corby Town until now, but the highly-rated 18-year-old goalkeeper has been scouted by the Red Devils and other top Premier League clubs like Manchester City, Spurs and Arsenal so he is used to a big audience.
Spiess looks set to start at Fratton Park in League One (7.45pm) because Notts No.1 Bartosz Bialkowski has had seven stitches in a serious head wound he suffered in their 2-1 league defeat at Leyton Orient three days ago.
The Pole was also kept in hospital in London on Saturday night before being driven back to Nottingham by the club's goalkeeping coach Kevin Pilkington on Sunday.
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German-born Spiess replaced Bialkowski at Brisbane Road and went on to make some super saves and boss Keith Curle is ready to turn to him again against Pompey.
The youngster admits being linked with the biggest clubs in the land is exciting, but his head is filled with seizing the biggest chance of his career.
"You can't lose your head just because someone says Man United want you," he said.
"I'm a young goalkeeper and I'm really happy at Notts and determined to take my chance.
"It's all down to me and I can't wait for the next few games if the manager picks me."
Spiess will almost certainly play in front of the biggest crowd of his career against Portsmouth because gates at Fratton Park have been around 12,000 this season.
But he is ready for some stick from the home fans, after being on the end of some volleys from the Orient fans.
"They were shouting 'that's why you're the second keeper!' and that I'm rubbish," he laughed.
"It's all part of the game, but it doesn't bother me. I'm too focused on the game and doing my best.
"I was proud of my performance and the gaffer said 'well done' to me afterwards, which was great to hear."
It was only Spiess' second appearance for Notts as a sub since he graduated from the Centre of Excellence at Meadow Lane and turned pro in August 2011.
Most young keepers would be happy for any chance they get in the first team of a club in League One, but Spiess admits he has been frustrated as an understudy to Bialkowski, with fellow rookie stopper Liam Mitchell.
"It is frustrating because I've not played many games this season," he said.
"I've just tried to keep working hard and believing in myself.
"I felt like my opportunity would come and I think it has now so hopefully I will take it.
"League One is a very good standard to start at and I think I'm ready for it.
"I just need to play more games and hopefully I will get better."
Despite his heroics, the Magpies still lost for the first time on the road in 11 months at Orient so will be aiming to bounce back at Portsmouth, who they have already beaten on the south coast in the FA Cup this season.
"I don't think we ever really got going (at Orient), but we were still unlucky not to go in front," said Spiess.
"We hit the bar and then had one cleared off the line and if either of those had gone in just before half-time it would have put us in a good position to win.
"It wasn't really our day and it's hard to take.
"I'm proud of my own performance, but it's all about the team and we lost the game and everyone is gutted."
A win tonight will certainly lift spirits – and heighten Spiess' reputation.