Martin Dubravka has been first choice between the sticks at Newcastle from pretty much the moment he arrived at St James’ Park and thwarted Manchester United to earn the Magpies a famous victory. Understudy Karl Darlow and the now-departed Rob Elliot have hardly had a look in this season, with the former starting only six matches, all in the FA Cup and League Cup.
Worse news for the 29-year-old is that Mark Gillespie returned to Tyneside – where he had been part of the academy – on a free transfer after impressing north of the border for Motherwell. The competition for places in goal will be even stiffer next term, and that is precisely why Freddie Woodman should be allowed to depart and continue his development with Swansea City.
This term the 23-year-old stopper has impressed in the Championship, missing just two of the Swans’ league matches. The second tier’s seventh-place side are still in within a shot of promotion with one game remaining, but they will have to hope rivals Cardiff or Nottingham Forrest lose on the final day of the league season.
After some promising displays in the Scottish Premiership, which included seven clean sheets across 19 starts for Kilmarnock FC and Aberdeen FC, Woodman was given a chance in the second tier this term and grabbed it with both hands. While in Wales, the stopper has kept 12 Championship clean sheets, which will have undoubtedly improved his reputation in England.
Furthermore, getting 43 league matches under his belt, this campaign will have been a fantastic experience for the U20 World Cup-winning goalkeeper. However, given the arrival of Gillespie, Woodman is likely surplus to requirements at St James’ Park, and it is in his interest to join Swansea permanently, as has been touted in the Sun via Hartlepool Mail.
Inserting a buy-back clause into a deal for Woodman would be a smart move on behalf of the Toon as he could yet develop into a top-flight stopper, but at present, it’s hard to see him starting often on Tyneside. There are some concerns over the Swans’ finances, and if that is the case, another loan move should be agreed with the side from South Wales, as it would make little sense to leave Woodman playing reserve football for the Magpies.
With Gillespie’s arrival, Woodman would likely be left as the fourth choice for Newcastle, meaning that making his Premier League debut with the Toon is unlikely, so it is in the interest of the player that he maximises the promise he has displayed in the Championship and departs. If a deal can be struck which gives Newcastle the option to resign the stopper in the future, it could prove to be a masterstroke in his development.