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Freddie Woodman will leave Newcastle on loan again next season

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FREDDIE WOODMAN has a long-term future at Newcastle, but Steve Bruce already intends to send the highly-rated young goalkeeper back out on loan next season.

Woodman is contracted to Newcastle until the summer of 2021 after the club triggered the option of extending his deal last August, and has spent the current campaign on loan at Swansea City.

He has started all of the Swans’ Championship matches this season, with his consistently impressive performances having seen him establish himself as one of the most highly-rated goalkeepers in the second tier.

As an England Under-21 squad regular, he has also been making a name for himself on the international scene, but despite having joined Newcastle’s academy in 2013, the 23-year-old is yet to make his senior debut for the Magpies.

Newcastle have been reshuffling their goalkeeping ranks this week, with free agent Mark Gillespie having signed following his release from Motherwell as a replacement for Rob Elliot. Gillespie joins Martin Dubravka and Karl Darlow on Newcastle’s first-team roster, raising questions about Woodman’s future prospects.

The youngster has been linked with a number of Championship clubs, who are interested in signing him permanently, but Bruce is adamant he remains part of Newcastle’s plans.

However, rather than thrusting Woodman into first-team contention next season, the Newcastle boss is already planning to send him back out on another loan.

“It’s vitally important he’s getting game time - a bit like the Dean Henderson situation at Man United,” said Bruce. “He’s playing, and it’s important for his career too that he’s playing regularly.

“We have taken up the option on him (last summer), and in an ideal world, we (will) let him back out on loan again. That is probably where we’re at.

“We’re very fortunate to have Dubravka and Karl Darlow, who reminded us all what a good goalkeeper he is (against Manchester City). So, in that department, we are delighted with what we have got – we’re very, very strong and we welcome Mark on board, he will be a welcome addition to the squad.”

While Darlow started Sunday’s FA Cup quarter-final defeat, Dubravka is expected to return to the starting line-up when Newcastle travel to Bournemouth tonight.

The game at the Vitality Stadium will be the Magpies’ fourth in 11 days since the end of football’s lockdown, and Bruce is set to make a number of changes to guard against the risk of fatigue in his squad.

DeAndre Yedlin and Valentino Lazaro are pushing for a start, while Jonjo Shelvey and Nabil Bentaleb are expected to feature in the starting line-up after missing out on Sunday. Shelvey was on the bench, while Bentaleb was suspended.

“It was always inevitable you were going to pick up injuries,” said Bruce, who will hand a late fitness test to former Bournemouth midfielder Matt Ritchie. “When you look at the Bundesliga, they’re up 250 per cent.

“It’s no surprise with the lack of game and training time. There’s nothing quite like a game of football. It was inevitable. It’s inevitable most teams will use their squads, especially when you get to the third or fourth game.

“Footballers can play every day. They train every day. But it’s the intensity which you have to get to in the Premier League. It’s important that I use the squad, especially when Bournemouth haven’t played for a week. I think it’s the right thing to do.”

While Bournemouth will spend the next seven games desperately trying to safeguard their Premier League status, Newcastle will be able to coast towards the end of the season with precious little at stake. However, Bruce is confident his players will not be downing tools in the games that remain.

“Over the last five years, the club has managed 42 points on average, so let’s hope we can better what that average has been,” he said.

Newcastle (possible, 4-4-1-1): Dubravka; Yedlin, Lascelles, Fernandez, Rose; Lazaro, Shelvey, Bentaleb, Muto; Almiron; Joelinton.




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