For most of this season, it has all been doom and gloom on the Toon as Newcastle United face yet another battle to avoid relegation to the Championship. In the majority of the matches this season, the Magpies have been on the back foot and they have struggled to stamp their authority in games. Pressure has been mounting on manager Steve Bruce to turn the tide on the Tyne. However, one area where Newcastle United have looked impressive is the goalkeeper department. Next season they will have Karl Darlow, Martin Dubravka, and loanee Freddie Woodman all battling it out to be the first choice.
Goalkeeper Options at Newcastle United
At this moment in time, Newcastle United’s current first-choice goalkeeper is Karl Darlow. Darlow was signed from Nottingham Forest back in 2014 in a joint deal which also saw the signing of club captain Jamaal Lascelles. As part of the deal, the pair would return to Forest on loan for the season.
Darlow would act as deputy to Rob Elliot in 2015/16 as Newcastle were relegated into the Championship. Following relegation, Darlow went on to establish himself as the first-choice keeper as Newcastle bounced back into the top flight at the first time of asking. Following promotion to the Premier League, Darlow struggled for form and failed to establish himself as first choice keeper. Manager Rafael Benitez regularly rotated between Darlow and Elliot but neither keeper was able to establish themselves as a first-team regular.
Following the signing of Martin Dubravka in January 2018, Darlow was limited to a place on the bench and he did not play a single Premier League game for two years. Over the summer, following a long term injury to the Slovakian international, Darlow was handed an opportunity in the Newcastle goal. Many fans expected him to struggle but so far this season, Darlow has proven a revelation in goal. He has made the sixth most saves in the Premier League with 88 saves and has played a key role in winning his side vital points this campaign.
Slovakian international Martin Dubravka was one of the outstanding performers in the Premier League last season, racking up a total of 140 saves. In doing so he helped a Newcastle side, who many tipped for relegation, to comfortably finish in a mid-table position.
Dubravka was first signed for the Magpies in 2018 by Rafa Benitez in a short term loan deal from Slavia Prague. His form proved to be a catalyst for a huge upturn in fortunes for Newcastle as they rose from the relegation places in January into the top half of the Premier League table. For the following two seasons, Dubravka was ever-present in between the sticks and played in every minute of every Premier League game.
Dubravka was ruled out with a long-term injury at the start of the season and since his return, he has been forced to be patient and has largely been limited to a place on the bench. The Slovakian international made his first start of the season in a 1-1 draw against Wolves.
There is currently a lot of talk surrounding Darlow and Dubravka. However, another goalkeeper who will be knocking on the door next season will be youngster Freddie Woodman.
Woodman joined the Newcastle United academy in 2014 and looks to be on the hot prospects in goal on the international scene. At youth level for England, he has made a total of 56 appearances and has been part of a golden era for the England youth team helping them to lift the U17 European Championship in 2014, the FIFA U20 World Cup in 2017 and the Toulon Tournament in 2018. During the FIFA U20 World Cup, Woodman was awarded the tournaments Golden Glove and he was also selected in the best eleven for the Toulon Tournament.
At club level, Woodman is yet to play a first-team game for the Magpies but he is currently enjoying a very successful spell with Swansea City.
Woodman has proven his credentials for two seasons in the Championship. He first joined Swansea on loan in 2019, featuring in 43 games as the Seans were narrowly beaten 3-2 in the playoff semi-final by Brentford. After an impressive first season, there were rumours of a Swansea trying to make the deal a permanent one however, they eventually opted to get the young goalkeeper on loan again for the following season. Woodman has impressed this campaign as Swansea are again competing for promotion to the top flight and they currently sit in 4th position.
Newcastle United Goalkeeper Conundrum
Despite the impressive form of Karl Darlow, Martin Dubravka is the more experienced goalkeeper and his distribution and command of the penalty area is better than Darlow. With Newcastle United struggling they will be heavily reliant on their goalkeeper and Dubravka will be the best man for the job in the crunch stage of the season.
Freddie Woodman is undoubtedly a huge star in the making at just 24 years of age and if he is to continue his good form for Swansea, he will certainly be able to make a strong case to start for Newcastle United next season. Newcastle must retain the services of the young goalkeeper.
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