One aspect of Newcastle United that seems to be in very good hands, quite literally, is the position of goalkeeper. That wasn’t necessarily the case at the start of the season.
When Newcastle’s Player of the Season Martin Dubravka went down with a serious heel injury, the number one gloves were handed off to backup Karl Darlow to keep warm until his return. The hope was Darlow could do enough to keep Newcastle afloat until Martin was available.
While Newcastle did flounder, quickly dropping down the table after a massive win at West Ham to start the campaign, it was Darlow’s performances that helped keep Newcastle close to mid-table.
Darlow earned a new long-term contract and has continued to stay as the number one despite Martin’s return a few months ago. If that will continue, remains to be seen but Darlow has at least proven he is a very capable Premier League goalkeeper this season.
His performances may not even be the most eye-catching in the ranks. Freddie Woodman also signed a new contract, over the summer, before being shipped back on loan to Swansea for a second straight season. The 23-year-old has been nothing short of sensational.
Woodman has made 31 starts for Swansea in all competitions, conceding just 20 goals while keeping 17 clean sheets, including yesterday’s 1-0 win over Nottingham Forest. The three points keep Swansea just below the automatic promotion places in third with two games in hand on all the clubs around them.
It’s been another season in which Freddie’s has made tremendous progress as a player. He’s getting valuable experience with Swansea and seemingly loving every minute of it.
Woodman is the focus of an article from The Athletic in which he talks about his career to date. His discontent from the 2018-19 season when he wasn’t allowed to go out on loan has been well-documented.
He did get some starts in the FA Cup which limited Karl Darlow to a lone appearance in the league cup that season. But he needed first-team experience which he’s now getting loads of in the Championship. This is what Freddie had to say about his development while at Swansea:
“The main reason for me coming back was because of how much I developed as a player and as a person. That’s what the club do brilliantly.
“I’ve been on a lot of loans: some good, some not so good. The attention to detail and the emphasis on development here is incredible. It’s what I’m all about.”
It seems to have paid off big time letting Woodman go out on loan. He’s become one of the top goalkeepers in the Championship and should be ready to test his mettle in the Premier League soon.
That likely won’t be with Newcastle, at least not next season, with both Dubravka and Darlow at the club. However, Woodman seems willing to wait for his chance. He admitted his goal long-term is to be Newcastle’s number one.
“One day I want to be. That’s why I’ve signed long-term at Newcastle. Wherever I go to or whatever I do, I want to know, ‘This is the best of me, I can’t give any more’.
“I’d love that to be as Newcastle’s No 1 but that moment certainly isn’t now. My ambition right now is to continue proving I deserve to be Swansea’s No 1.”
The article also said Freddie’s father Andy, who was a goalkeeping coach at Newcastle, often says his son is obsessed with making it on Tyneside. His determination may well pay off in the future, and if he progresses like over the past two years, we may have a future star on our hands.