20-year-old Freddie Woodman is gaining a reputation as a fine young goalkeeper and is undoubtedly one to watch in the Premier League in the years to come.
Appearances for England at every level from under-16 to under-21 underline his ability within his own age group and he is currently playing first team football in the Scottish Premiership on loan with Kilmarnock. Is he ready to be relied upon in the pressure cooker that is St James’ Park and Newcastle United though?
I would say yes, simply because Newcastle cannot ignore his talent. Taking age and experience right out of the equation, Woodman simply must be part of the Newcastle squad when they reach the Premier League. Karl Darlow probably deserves the chance to keep his place as no.1. The former Nottingham Forest ‘keeper is becoming a firm fan favourite now and has done little to discourage Rafa Benitez.
It was the manager’s choice to sign Belgian Matz Sels last summer, and so the chances are that despite a shaky start in black and white, he will remain as part of the squad beyond August and for another year at least. So far then, that’s two ‘keepers on the list with a third really needed to be safe.
Rumours abound that Rob Elliot will be looking elsewhere during the summer and I very much doubt he will start next season as a Newcastle United player. Loved by the fans and having never let anyone down when he’s played, he deserves not to sit on the bench but in mitigation, he has played precious few games because of injury and I feel Newcastle will think they can no longer rely on him long term.
What of Tim Krul then? Once touted as a target for the likes of Man United, Krul was a penalty shootout hero in a World Cup for the Netherlands and has tons of experience at the top level. A very poor season on loan back in Holland though has seen his stock fall. Unable to even break into the matchday squad at Ajax, Krul went to AZ Alkmaar in what has so far been an unsuccessful stint there.
Krul has publicly stated his intention to come back and challenge for his place at Newcastle in the summer, but I would suggest he will not displace Karl Darlow as no.1 and may end up looking for a new challenge. So, with a third ‘keeper needed anyway and with Sels not looking like a great long term option, Freddie Woodman may take a good leap forward in his career after the coming pre-season and Newcastle will do well to give him his chance.