When we signed Matz Sels at the end of June, I have to say I was one of the fans who was very confused with a goalkeeper being our first signing.
Admittedly for the past 2 seasons we have had to rely on our 3rd choice goalkeeper but all that did for me was show the great strength in depth we have in this position with Elliot and Darlow both shining when they had to step up.
Now we have had a number of quality signings through the door, and that I have had time to sit back and think, the signing of a goalkeeper did make sense (I think maybe it was the fact he was our first signing which maybe shocked me the most). As Rob Elliot is out with a long term injury and a number of rumours of Tim Krul being sold back up to the Premiership, we needed to make sure there was a number of players with strong coverage in front of the sticks.
It is safe to say Rob Elliot will be out of the running due to injury and even if Tim Krul does stay it will be touch and go too as to whether he will be back to full fitness in time, but with 3 other talented Goalkeepers now on our books, who would you like to see in the starting line up in our first game of the season against Fulham on Friday 5th August?
Matz Sels – The 24 year old Belgian who joined us in June of this year. We got to see him play recently in the first half of our first Pre-season Game against Bohemian FC which we won 6-0. Being honest, I had not heard much of Matz Sels before his arrival to the Toon, but having read up on him since, his talent is obvious.
He was the number 1 goalkeeper for KAA Gent when they won their first ever Belgian Championship in the 2014/15 season and on January 2016 he was voted Belgian Goalkeeper of the year for 2015. Last season he gained Champions League experience and was also called up to the Belgium national team for qualifiers against Israel and Andorra – now considering Belgium are ranked number 2 in the world, that does deserve some credit.
Karl Darlow – Personally I believe Karl Darlow was one of the few highlights of the latter stages of the season. With Krul and Elliot injured we saw Darlow recover from his poor debut in the Premier League against WBA. He stepped up to the occasion and showed fine form and performances throughout the end of the season. Newcastle signed Darlow from Nottingham Forest after he had spent 4 years at the club making 64 appearances, he was then loaned back for the 2014/15 season where he made a further 42 appearances for them in the Championship. It is this Championship experience which I think will be valuable to Newcastle this coming season if we rely upon him.
Freddie Woodman – Woodman is currently at the Euros with England Under 19’s where he has helped them maintain a 100% record. Last season saw Freddie start at Crawley Town in League 2 where he made 12 appearances before Newcastle had to recall him due to our injury problems. Over the past 2 seasons he has made it onto our bench a number of times but never quite making that debut – could this season see him finally make that first team debut?
For me the answer to the question depends on a number of things – will Tim Krul leave?
If he does stay, will he be fit in time for the start of the season? Does Rafa continue to use both Sels and Darlow in pre-season and if he does how do they perform in the pre-season games?
The start of the season is too soon to see Freddie Woodman make his debut but he is a big talent and I hope he continues in this way to the point where we one day see him as Newcastle United’s number 1!
If it is down to Sels and Darlow it is a battle between my head and my heart as to who starts – my head says Sels due to his experience and Rafa would have brought him in for that (IN RAFA WE TRUST) but my heart says Darlow for his end of season exploits in goal last year, alongside his Championship experience.