Bruce has confirmed that the ex-Motherwell stopper will be the club’s third choice goalkeeper, replacing the departing Rob Elliot, saying he’s ‘delighted’ to bring the local lad back to his boyhood club.
As for Woodman, Bruce hints that the England U-21 talent will be loaned out once again this summer following an impressive season in the second tier with Swansea.
Here’s what Bruce has had to say about both, starting with 28-year-old new boy Mark Gillespie:
“He’s signed, and will be part of the squad next year; he’s obviously not allowed to play now.
“With Rob Elliot leaving, it’s important we have three goalkeepers.
“We’re delighted to have him on board.
“He was here as a youngster, went away and played some games, and we welcome him back.”
“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.”
“We’ve now got to make the call on Woodman at Swansea.”
Some wondered why we bothered signing another stopper, but we’ll only be able to loan Woodman out if we have three goalkeepers – and Gillespie is a low cost and younger alternative to Elliot, so it makes sense, even if he’ll struggle for game time.
Bruce then discussed Woodman’s future, hinting that he’ll be loaned out again this summer:
“It’s vitally important he’s getting game time – a bit like the Dean Henderson situation at Man United,”
“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.
A return to Swansea seems likely, with him doing brilliantly during his spell at the Liberty Stadium, however his long-term future on Tyneside still remains uncertain.
He’s out of contract next summer and is unlikely to sign a new deal unless he feels certain he’ll become a regular starter in the next year or two – and I’m not sure that’s something we’ll be able to offer him while Dubravka is both here and in such good form.
Our goalkeeping options are solid, but Woodman’s situation is one we must manage carefully if we plan to keep him for years to come.