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Shishkovski faces language barrier at Gent

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Shishkovski during trainingShishkovski during trainingGoalkeeper Damjan Shishkovski, who speaks little English, faces a challenging transition with Belgian club Gent.

At their recent winter camp site in the Spanish town of Oliva, Gent's coaches were surprised by how little English that new signing Damjan Shishkovski spoke. That has created problems in him communicating with teammates, and keeper is one position where communication is critical. That is why one of Gent's spokespeople has been teaching basic English to Shishkovski so he can acclimate as quickly as possible.

This is what the goalkeeping coach of Gent, Franky Vandendriessche, had to say about Shishkovski, "We've got a serious language barrier, but Damjan is working hard on improving. He gets lectures six times a week. We knew in advance that his English was not great, but we didn't think it was this bad. Now he is being taught basic football terms in English. As for him ordering something at a restaurant, that can be learned later."

At Oliva, Shishkovski played in two friendlies (came off the bench in the 65th minute in each game) because the backup keeper had a minor injury. However, Gent bought Damjan to primarily serve as the third keeper. They were looking for a younger option than their previous #3 keeper Kristof Maes (26 years old).

Damjan in friendly vs. UtrechtDamjan in friendly vs. Utrecht

The interesting aspect is that Shishkovski's contract with Gent is only for 6 months. He also has an option for an additional year as well. So, Damjan faces pressure to improve his English quickly (and also impress during trainings) since Gent has to decide whether to pick up his option in six months. Otherwise, he will become a free agent in the summer.

As for his play in the two friendlies, Vandendriessche said that he liked Damjan's positioning and also the fact that he wasn't afraid to throw his body around when intercepting crosses in front of lunging strikers. However, he said that Shishkovski's English must improve before he is trusted to be put out there in a meaningful game.

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