Newcastle duo Adam Armstrong and Freddie Woodman, both 18, have been selected in the England under-19 squad yesterday for the forthcoming fixtures with Germany and Croatia.
Both youngsters are currently out on loan, with Armstrong lighting up League One with Coventry City and Woodman recently making his debut in League Two with Crawley Town.
The parallels don’t stop there. The Magpie pair were both a part of the England U17 Euro Championship triumph in Malta last year, with Woodman saving a penalty in the shoot-out victory over the Netherlands.
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Armstrong has been garnering much of the mainstream attention thanks to his goals at the Ricoh Arena, but Woodman has been building a solid reputation of his own though for both club and country.
Croydon-born Woodman made his Newcastle U18 debut in a friendly against York at just 14 years of age. His father, Andy Woodman, helped bring him to the club in 2013 from Crystal Palace’s academy, while he was a goalkeeping coach on Tyneside.
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Andy would make the same trade in reverse after re-joining Alan Pardew’s backroom staff and heading to Selhurst Park just over a month ago. Such as the high regard Freddie is held in at St James’ however, the shot-stopper was tied down to a new long-term contract late last year and he won’t be making the same move as his father.
Upon signing his new deal, Woodman said: “It feels amazing to sign with a club as big as Newcastle. It’s a dream come true. At this Club, you can see that young players are getting a chance.”
Woodman started as he means to go on after keeping a clean sheet on his senior debut last Saturday in Crawley’s 3-0 away day victory over Cambridge.
Woodman also recently won the 'Jack Hixon' award, an award named after a local scout who found several north east youngsters who went on to be professional players. Armstrong won the award in 2013 with England U17 striker Mackenzie Heaney the victor last year.
Speaking of awards, a very prestigious award on Tyneside is the ‘Wor Jackie’ award, which pays homage to legendary local lad Jackie Milburn. In effect, it’s the club’s award for their best young player of the year and a goalkeeper did manage to secure the award back in 2011.
Jak Alnwick was the recipient on that occasion, however his tenure with the club ended this past summer when his contract expired and was not renewed. Alnwick made eight unflattering appearances for Newcastle last term when resident number one Tim Krul and his usual back up Rob Elliot succumbed to injury.
Despite faring well as a substitute on his debut where he made five saves to keep Chelsea at bay, helping Newcastle steal a 2-1 victory, ultimately Elliot never made the most of his opportunity.
So what chance does Woodman have of fulfilling his potential?
He certainly has all the tools. At six-foot-one-inches, he has enough presence whilst remaining agile. Woodman’s hallmark however is his shot-stopping and his remarkable reflexes have led to comparisons with the man he endeavours to usurp in Krul.
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