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Craig Brown has praised in-form keeper John Ruddy and says he wants the Everton loanee to stay at Fir Park beyond the summer. Ruddy is currently at Motherwell until the end of the current season but has impressed with his recent performances.

The 23-year old has only conceded one goal in seven SPL matches since Brown took over and his hot streak has coincided with Motherwell’s unbeaten run in the league. The manager said he had been looking at other options to replace Ruddy when his loan spell ends but hadn’t seen anyone who could match the 6’ 4” Englishman.

“We have looked at other keepers but they’re not as good as John,” Brown admitted.

“He enjoys playing for Motherwell, we have spoken to him and he loves it here.

“But he’s not our player, he is Everton’s. If we could keep him it would be great for the club.”

Ruddy joined the Lanarkshire club on loan at the beginning of the season along with fellow Everton youngster Lukas Jutkiewicz. Both players agreed to move north until January but following their success in the first half of the season the deals were extended until June.

The loan move has led to one of the most settled periods of Ruddy’s brief career so far. The goalkeeper made his breakthrough at Cambridge United in the 2004-05 season and although the club were relegated Everton snapped him up for £250,000. Though fourth-choice at Goodison Park, Ruddy is regarded by David Moyes as a potential future England cap, a prediction backed up by the player’s inclusion in the England Under-19 squad in 2005.

Being far down the pecking order at Everton made the goalkeeper a popular loan signing for clubs facing an injury crisis and he had played for eight different clubs by the age of 21. Short-term loan deals saw him move from Everton to Walsall, Rushden and Diamonds, Chester City, Stockport County, Wrexham, Bristol City and Crewe Alexandra.

Motherwell may have to dig deep to sign the player on a permanent basis. If Everton were prepared to let the player move to gain regular football, his performances in the SPL would undoubtedly mean a number of clubs would vie for his signature.

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