'Clean sheets are nice but winning is everything'

Monday 27 Oct 2014
Woolston with goalkeeper coach Simon Smith in Cyprus

Paul Woolston is eyeing a shut out to help England seal a spot in the Elite Qualifying Round of the European Championship.

The Newcastle United goalkeeper started for the U17s as they collected three points by hitting four past Cyprus on Friday, but a late red card for Reece Oxford saw the Young Lions concede a late penalty which was converted – ruining the hopes of a clean sheet for the Geordie shotstopper.

But despite that late goal, Woolston refuses to be too downbeat and says it’s all about winning at this stage of the competition as he prepares for Monday’s clash with Macedonia.

England v Macedonia

European U17 Championship
First Round Qualifier
1pm, Monday 27 October
Paphiakos Stadium, Paphos

“The game went well. We won, which is the most important thing, especially in a competition like this where it is crucial,” he told TheFA.com at the team hotel in Paphos.

“We performed really well, although the penalty we conceded was a bit soft, but we controlled the game.

“I would have preferred a clean sheet, but the win was all that mattered as a team.”

He continued: “It would have given me a little bit more belief going into the next game if I had a clean sheet – but in a way it makes me more determined.

“If I am selected to play on Monday, then my target will be to ensure that I keep one there – but it’s all about the team performing well.”

The 16-year-old first featured for John Peacock’s side at the St. George’s Park tournament in August – and he says he has noticed a difference in the camp this week.

“The games in August weren’t all about winning, it was about creating togetherness as a team and working on our performances.

“But now it is the Euros, winning is everything if we are to get where we want to go.

"Now it is the Euros, winning is everything if we are to get where we want to go"

Paul Woolston

“We seem to be creating more chances, which is good to see, and the defence is getting tighter all the time and learning.”

Goalkeepers are notoriously strong-willed, and despite his young age, Woolston is no different.

Being the last line of defence brings its own pressures, but the 'keeper says he isn’t feeling it.

“There’s always that pressure knowing that if I make a mistake then no-one is behind me to cover,” he explained.

“If a striker misses a chance, he’ll always get plenty of other chances, but for a 'keeper it will be pointed out – even if I make ten good saves.

“I’m strong minded though, and if I ever do then it’s about bouncing back, putting it out of your mind and moving on to the next game and improving.

“But hopefully with my next chance for England, I’ll keep that ball out of the net and we’ll be celebrating another victory and qualification.”

By Gary Stonehouse Staff Writer in Paphos, Cyprus