Newcastle and England under-19 star on battling 16 stone strikers and playing for the Magpies

Freddie Woodman
Freddie Woodman

Newcastle keeper Freddie Woodman has revealed how going for crosses against the lower-league big boys is improving his game.

The England under-19 is enjoying a successful loan spell at Crawley Town and is loving every minute of it … particularly pitting his wits against giant strikers like Wimbledon’s 16 stone Adebayo Akinfenwa.

“It’s been a good start to the season for me,” said the 18-year-old. “I wanted to get out on loan - I wanted to get some games in men’s football, and I’m delighted that I have now.

“It’s tough going into the Football League when you’re an 18-year-old keeper, going for crosses against big lads like (16-stone Wimbledon striker Adebayo) Akinfenwa and those sort of people, but I’ve always said that age doesn’t bother me.

“I go into every game feeling confident and thinking that I can deal with the situation. I’ve felt like I’ve done well for the first five games and hopefully it can continue for the season.

“We started at Oxford away, a tough place to go. We’ve had the hardest month, we’ve had the biggest spenders to play, but I made two good saves against Oxford and we got a (1-1) draw, which I was happy about.

“I’ve had to come for a lot of crosses because in this league they pump the ball into the box and you’ve got to come and relieve the pressure from the back four.

“The clean sheet against Portsmouth (last week) was massive - they’re expected to win the league, so to get my first clean sheet against them in a tough, tough Tuesday night game where I had a few knocks to the head and people sliding in and smashing me, is all part of the learning curve.

“And against Cambridge at the weekend, 3-0 away from home was a perfect result. It couldn’t have been any better; our first win and back-to-back clean sheets in the league.

“I’m proud of that and hopefully I can keep building on these few games. You know me - I pick everything from every game. I watch the games five times during the week and I know the things that I’ve done well and not so well.

“I learn from everything that I do in the week and I’ve got good people who advise me. I’ve got Simon here now; I speak to Simmo (Paul Simpson) after the games; I’ve got Blackie (Steve Black) and then there’s my family, so it’s good for me. I’ve got good people around me who are going to make me better.

“It is nice that people care when you go out on loan - you’re not just thrown in at a club and forgotten about. I speak to people at the Club a lot after games and it is nice to know that there are people on your side, reporting back.

“And it’s nice to come back to Newcastle for a few days and get some nice training in at the facilities we’ve got.”

With no midweek game for Crawley, the teenager has been back at Newcastle to catch up with the Magpies’ recently-appointed goalkeeping coach, Simon Smith, and train with Tim Krul, Karl Darlow and Rob Elliot.