Newcastle United were hit with the rather unsavoury news that first-choice ‘keeper Tim Krul has been ruled out for the rest of the season with a knee injury.
As if things weren’t bad enough for the Magpies, who sit bottom of the league, they will now have to enter a busy October period without Krul, and potentially back-up shot stopper Karl Darlow, who has a foot injury.
Up steps Freddie Woodman. The teenager has been recalled from a loan spell at Crawley, and was in goal for England’s Under-17 European Championships win last year. He has been studying under Krul for the past few seasons, and looks to finally be getting his chance.
Granted, Dutch international Krul has been playing behind a simply awful defence for the last year and a half or so, but the ‘keeper is prone to mistakes. Though he’s been an excellent servant for the North East giants, he’s not always been wholly reliable.
Woodman is an exciting young prospect, who has worked hard to prove himself as he progressed through the ranks with the Toon Army. Obviously, you have to take into account the quality of the opposition, but the 18-year old has saved 73% of shots he has faced while at Crawley so far.
Comparatively, Rob Elliot – the only man left to challenge Woodman – has saved just 58% during his last three season. Clearly, we must not take the difference in quality lightly, but it seems as if Woodman deserves his chance.
It’s not only the stats that build his case. The youngster is a bright, young English talent and some encouraging performances from the player can help raise moral at St. James’. It’s been so dire there for what seems like forever, the emergence of an exciting home-grown talent can help lift the mood.
He’s been used to the big stage, crucially saving a spot kick that sent the Young Lions on their way to winning the youth championships last summer. Already he has been presented awards by the likes of Michel Platini and Alan Shearer, and he’s only 18.
Linked with the likes of Southampton and Crystal Palace, where his father Andy works as a coach, its clear Woodman has a bright future in the game. Though it’s important not to expect too much too soon, Krul’s layoff could be a blessing in disguise.
Perhaps the emergence of a young talent is what is needed to lift the club. It’s been so stale in black and white over the past few years, the club have stagnated and are now facing plummet into the second tier of British football. They need something, anything to lift them. Perhaps Woodman’s emergence can go at least some way into lifting the mood.
Life is Krul at times, but Woodman can fill the gloves.