'It is tough going - I had to go there and earn respect'

Thursday 27 Aug 2015
Freddie Woodman is enjoying his time at Crawley Town
Freddie Woodman admits it is "tough going" in League Two, but the 18-year-old goalkeeper would not have it any other way.

The youngster, who was named in the England U19s squad earlier this week, is enjoying his first taste of senior football after joining Crawley Town on loan from Newcastle United.  

England U19s' Euro trip

Germany v England
Friday 4 September 2015
BELKAW Arena, Bergisch Gladbach
Croatia v England
Monday 7 September 2015
Sveti Josip Radnik Stadion, Zagreb

Last Saturday saw the shotstopper record his second clean sheet in four games for Town, and before he aims for his third this weekend against Wycombe Wanderers, he gave NUFC.co.uk an update of his progress at Broadfield Stadium.

"It's been a good start to the season for me," said Woodman. "I wanted to get out on loan - I wanted to get some games in men's football, and I'm delighted that I have now.

"It's tough going into the Football League when you're an 18-year-old keeper, going for crosses against big lads like [16-stone Wimbledon striker Adebayo] Akinfenwa and those sort of people, but I've always said that age doesn't bother me.

"I go into every game feeling confident and thinking that I can deal with the situation. I've felt like I've done well for the first five games and hopefully it can continue for the season.

Freddie Woodman has joined Crawley on loan until January

Freddie Woodman has joined Crawley until January

"I've had to come for a lot of crosses because in this league they pump the ball into the box and you've got to come and relieve the pressure from the back four."

Woodman collected the first clean sheet of his career against in a draw with Portsmouth before securing his second in last weekend’s victory over Cambridge.

But even when he has shut out the opposition, he revealed that he still studies his own performance in minute detail to ensure he keeps developing.

"The clean sheet against Portsmouth [last week] was massive - they're expected to win the league, so to get my first clean sheet against them in a tough, tough Tuesday night game where I had a few knocks to the head and people sliding in and smashing me, is all part of the learning curve.

"And against Cambridge at the weekend, 3-0 away from home was a perfect result. It couldn't have been any better; our first win and back-to-back clean sheets in the league," he continued.

"I'm proud of that and hopefully I can keep building on these few games. I pick everything from every game. I watch the games five times during the week and I know the things that I've done well and not so well.

"I learn from everything that I do in the week and I've got good people who advise me. It is nice that people care when you go out on loan - you're not just thrown in at a club and forgotten about. I speak to people at the club a lot after games and it is nice to know that there are people on your side, reporting back.”

Crawley boss Mark Yates also handed a senior debut to Jack Butland, when he signed the England international on loan for Cheltenham in 2011, and that fact is not lost on Woodman.

"I knew that he'd worked closely with him, it was one of the things that made me go to Crawley and I was just delighted that he showed faith in me and gave me my chance.

"But I've got to repay him now by keeping clean sheets, like I have done, and putting in good performances.

England U17s goalkeeper Freddie Woodman celebrates victory in the Euro Final.

Woodman helped England win the European U17s Championship in 2014

"If I keep working hard with the good people around me, I'm sure that I can get there."

Woodman, who had a spell on loan at Hartlepool United last season without making an appearance, says he knew he would have to earn the respect of his new team-mates.

And if he can keep the clean sheets going, he is also hoping to win the backing of the club’s fans, who have already been heaping praise on the teenager.

"You have to go in there and you have to show a lot of respect to them - and I think you have to gain their respect by putting in performances and showing that you're willing to work for the team and put a shift in for the fans," Woodman explained.

"Once you get their respect, it's good. All the lads are top drawer with me and I'm enjoying my time there.

"And my relationship with the fans has been brilliant. There's a good bunch of people behind the goal in the Bruce Winfield stand, nice people, and when we beat Cambridge away from home at the weekend, the fans were quality.”

He added: "They are noisy and I get a lot of good messages on Twitter and Instagram, so I'm just happy that they respect me and show faith in me.

"I'm not sure if they have a song for me yet but someone said the other day that they were making one. It would be nice to hear my name sung. It would be brilliant."

By Gary Stonehouse Staff Writer at St. George's Park