Neil Etheridge: Goalkeeper's Cardiff City future uncertain after omission
Neil Etheridge's future at Cardiff City looks increasingly uncertain after the goalkeeper was dropped for Sunday's south Wales derby with Swansea City.
Alex Smithies started ahead of the 29-year-old in the 0-0 draw.
Etheridge has been linked with West Ham, while fellow Premier League side Aston Villa showed interest in 2019.
"There's been a lot of talk around Neil, not just in this window, but in the previous window as well," said Cardiff boss Neil Harris.
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"I had a really good couple of conversations with Neil in the week about his standards and what he wants to get back to.
"Without speaking out of turn, I think it's been a little bit up and down.
"The lad wants to be consistent, he wants to be settled and play football. To do that sometimes, especially in these games, you need to be at your best. You need to be focused.
"I made the decision to leave him out. He understood. He wanted to play obviously, but Alex has wanted to play every game since I've been here, and Joe Day wants to play as well.
"We've got three goalkeepers who all deserve to play first-team football and three don't go into one, so something will have to give before 1 February."
West Ham's Fabianski injured
West Ham are in the market for a goalkeeper after first-choice Lukasz Fabianski, formerly of Swansea, suffered another injury during Friday's defeat at Sheffield United.
The Hammers had hoped to re-sign Darren Randolph from Middlesbrough, but that has been held up because of the Republic of Ireland international's own fitness concerns.
Cardiff's signing of Joe Day from Newport County last summer took the total of senior goalkeepers in their squad to four, before veteran Brian Murphy left the club earlier this month.
Etheridge, who joined from Walsall for free in 2017, was one of Cardiff's best performers in the Premier League last season.
The Philippines international saved three penalties - a joint-high for the top flight - and kept 10 clean sheets for despite the Bluebirds' relegation.
However, this season, Etheridge has struggled to recapture that form in the Championship.
Smithies 'best' derby option
Smithies has taken his place and, having deputised for Etheridge when he was injured earlier this season, Harris is confident the 2018 £4m signing from QPR can fill the role permanently.
"Alex Smithies is a quality goalkeeper who's proved himself year after year playing in the Championship," he said.
"Alex wants to play. He's outstanding in training every day, he's a super professional and a goalkeeper I rate highly.
"Today with everything, the decision was made and Alex was the best option today.
"Moving forward, they're good goalkeepers, really good goalkeepers. It's a wonderful position for me to be in."