Freddie Woodman sees path to Newcastle United first team now open up – Opportunity knocks
Freddie Woodman was just about to sign for Bournemouth.
The 24 year old set to commit to a year on loan on the south coast at the Championship club.
Only for Wednesday to see a last minute u-turn.
News breaking that Martin Dubravka has a new foot injury and is set for surgery and to miss the start of the season. Newcastle fans fearing a repeat of last year, when the NUFC number one missed the opening months of the season, before then bizarrely Steve Bruce refused to put him back into the team once fully fit, despite Karl Darlow’s early season form having been in decline for some time, Dubravka spending months on the bench before getting back in for the final 13 Premier League games.
Freddie Woodman had been conspicuous by his absence at Newcastle’s pre-season training camp near York this week, the keeper even posting stuff on Instagram that made it clear he was in London and not with the NUFC squad. Wednesday’s news of the intended loan to Bournemouth then making it public why this has been the case.
Freddie Woodman had found himself in a strange position, these past two seasons have seen the goalkeeper playing every week in the Championship, 91 league starts for Swansea in that time. Last season, he was widely acknowledged as the best keeper in the Championship, Swansea conceding only 39 goals (only automatically promoted Watford and Norwich conceded less) and Freddie Woodman winning the Championship Golden Glove after keeping 20 clean sheets in 45 Championship appearances.
With Newcastle United though, Martin Dubravka is clear number one and has constantly proved that since Rafa Benitez made the inspired bargain signing back in 2018. The other obvious problem is that of course for goalkeepers it is all or nothing, only one spot in the team and you are either in or out, you can’t fit in a slightly different position like many outfield players do.
A goalkeeper too good for the Championship now after making rapid progress but his way blocked at NUFC by Dubravka. Newcastle United fans fearing the worst, that Mike Ashley could see it as a no-brainer, raise cash by selling a player who cost NUFC nothing, totally ignoring the fact that he is one of the most promising young goalkeepers around. Plus he’s English of course, which always adds an extra premium to any valuation.
Much was said about an ideal solution of Swansea if getting promotion, having Freddie Woodman on loan for a third season but this time able to get experience of playing in the Premier League every week. Only one small flaw in that plan, apart from the fact of course that in the end Swansea failed in the play-offs, which is that can you imagine Newcastle loaning a keeper to a relegation rival and that ends up directly leading to NUFC relegated due to their young keeper’s efforts for another club?!!
One positive in the reporting this week is that Newcastle United are said to have turned down a cash offer from Leeds to buy Freddie Woodman. I’m guessing the amount wasn’t great and certainly didn’t properly reflect his ability and potential, but still good to be told that Newcastle rejected it, whatever the amount.
Anyway, opportunity knocks for Freddie Woodman now at Newcastle United.
Dubravka not expected to be around for the early stages of the Premier League season and Newcastle pulling Woodman out of the intended loan to Bournemouth.
Freddie Woodman now seeing a surprising and unexpected path to the Newcastle United first team now open up.
I expect Woodman will now be joining the rest of the NUFC squad today to take part in the remainder of their training camp near York, which them culminates with friendlies at both Harrogate and York City, with a Newcastle squad supplemented by some Under 23 players and split to cover both games on Sunday. Freddie Woodman expected now to be starting one or the other of these friendlies.
Mark Gillespie is obviously clearly cover and now in Dubravka’s absence, Freddie Woodman is competing with Karl Darlow to potentially see who starts the season against West Ham as the first choice fit and available keeper.
This is all that young upcoming players can hope for and I really hope that Steve Bruce will go with Freddie Woodman as first choice, if as expected, Dubravka is ruled out of the start of the season.
After that it is all then down to the player himself.
Whilst you can still say he relatively young for a goalkeeper up to a point, Freddie Woodman actually turns 25 during the upcoming season and for an ambitious player who was a constant in the younger England age groups, this could and should be the opportunity he has been waiting for.
Freddie Woodman has started 91 Championship matches these past two seasons and with 19 starts previously when on loan in the Scottish top tier, that makes it 110 starts at a high level.
In his entire career, Karl Darlow (turns 31 in October) has only started 44 Premier League games and in total, 173 starts in the Championship or above.
I am not saying it would be a nightmare if Darlow was chosen but he would be very much the ‘safe’ choice. Not a Premier League standard first choice but a very decent back up.
Whereas with Freddie Woodman, Newcastle have a goalkeeper who has the potential to be one of the very best Premier League keepers in the years ahead.
All of Woodman’s behaviour on and off the pitch has shown a very mature professional, dedicated to become the best he can possibly be.
I am gutted for Martin Dubravka that he has picked up another injury but one player’s misfortune gives another a chance and if Freddie Woodman is picked to start the season, I think there is every chance he could prove to be Newcastle United’s new number one.
I think reality is, that if Freddie Woodman isn’t given the chance in Dubravka’s absence then you would have to wonder when he ever would. Not selecting the 24 year old would surely ensure his future career is guaranteed to be at some other club.
Watch this space.
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